Chile - Country Commercial Guide
Investment Climate Statement
Last published date:

The U.S. Department of State’s Investment Climate Statements provide information on the business climates of more than 170 economies and are prepared by economic officers stationed in embassies and posts around the world. They analyze a variety of economies that are or could be markets for U.S. businesses. The Investment Climate Statements are also references for working with partner governments to create enabling business environments that are not only economically sound, but address issues of labor, human rights, responsible business conduct, and steps taken to combat corruption. The reports cover topics including Openness to Investment, Legal and Regulatory Systems, Protection of Real and Intellectual Property Rights, Financial Sector, State-Owned Enterprises, Responsible Business Conduct, and Corruption.

Executive Summary

With the second highest GDP per capita in Latin America below Uruguay, Chile has historically enjoyed levels of stability and prosperity among the highest in the region. Widespread civil unrest broke out in 2019, however, in response to what the Latinobarómetro Corporation opinion study reports as high perceived economic inequality. Pursuant to a political accord, Chile held a plebiscite in October 2020 in which citizens chose to redraft the constitution. Following several months in which elected constituents drafted a new constitution, Chileans voted by a significant margin to reject the new draft constitution in a September 2022 national plebiscite. As polls continue to show a strong majority of the public favors a new constitution, a renewed congressional effort on a new constitutional process will lead to another plebiscite in late 2023 on what many analysts estimate will be a more moderate document. Chile’s solid macroeconomic policy framework the country boasts one of the strongest sovereign bond ratings in Latin America has provided the fiscal space to respond to the economic contraction that followed the COVID-19 pandemic through stimulus packages and other measures. As a result, Chile’s economic growth in 2022 was, according to its Central Bank, 2.4 percent, and the same institution forecasts Chile’s economic growth in 2023 will be in the range of -0.5 percent to 0.5 percent.

Chile has successfully attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) despite its relatively small domestic market. The country’s market-oriented policies have created significant opportunities for foreign investors to participate in the country’s economic growth. Chile has a sound legal framework and there is general respect for private property rights. Sectors that attract significant FDI include mining, finance/insurance, energy, telecommunications, chemical manufacturing, and wholesale trade. Mineral, hydrocarbon, and fossil fuel deposits within Chilean territory are restricted from foreign ownership, but companies may sign resource extraction contracts with the government. Corruption exists in Chile but on a much smaller scale than in most Latin American countries, ranking 27 out of 180 countries worldwide and second in Latin America –below Uruguay- in Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Although Chile is an attractive destination for foreign investment, challenges remain. Legislative and constitutional reforms proposed in response to the social unrest and the pandemic have generated concern about the potential impact on investments in the mining, energy, healthcare, insurance, and pension sectors. Importantly, the legislation enabling the constitutional reform process requires that the new constitution must respect Chile’s character as a democratic republic, its judicial sentences, and its international treaties (including the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement). Despite a general respect for intellectual property (IP) rights, Chile has not fully complied with its IP obligations set forth in the U.S.-Chile FTA. Environmental permitting processes, indigenous consultation requirements, and cumbersome court proceedings have made large project approvals increasingly time consuming and unpredictable, especially in cases with political sensitivities. The current administration prioritizes attracting foreign investment and continues to implement measures to streamline the process.

To access the ICS, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statements website.