Chile - Country Commercial Guide
Market Challenges

Learn about barriers to market entry and local requirements, i.e., things to be aware of when entering the market for this country.

Last published date: 2021-01-16

While U.S. companies have not been the target of protests and demonstrations, these developments, in addition to COVID-19, has forced the Chilean Government to shift its focus to addressing citizen demands related to the pension system, high price of pharmaceuticals and higher education, health care, and utilities costs.

In terms of market entry, perhaps the greatest challenge to a U.S. firm seeking to export to Chile is the high degree of competition and the relatively small market size. Even though Chile is a market with a population of just fewer than 19 million, its open trade and investment policy has attracted the attention of many foreign firms and it ranks as the 20th largest U.S. goods export market in the world. At the same time, the small market size has led some companies to overlook Chile, leaving interesting niche markets and solid opportunities for U.S. exports.

Despite Chile’s openness to new products and technology, Chilean businesspeople tend to be far more conservative and cautious than the average U.S. businessperson. U.S. companies should take this into consideration when entering the market and adjust sales expectations accordingly.

While the Chilean Government is committed to trying to streamline certain processes, U.S. companies will find that operating in Chile requires patience and a tolerance for delays associated with doing government-mandated paperwork and obtaining various approvals and permits.

A key to competing successfully is finding the right in-country partner. It is extremely difficult for a foreign entity to successfully do business in Chile without having either a direct presence in the market or a local partner. A good agent or distributor can use their business and/or social connections to open doors and overcome regulatory, as well as cultural and language barriers.

U.S. companies doing business in Chile should be aware that a relatively small number of economic groups and families control a large percentage of Chilean businesses. The limited competition in select industries has brought to light increasing concerns about transparency and allegations of potential collusion or corruption in recent years.