Chile's Integration Strategy: Is There Room for Improvement?

Oct 2006
What are the main issues in Chile's trade agenda? This paper argues that the country's agenda does not lend itself to that traditional kind of policy advice usually given throughout Latin America. Protection is low and uniform, institutions that govern trade policy are strong and well protected from capture and the country has put a lot of effort in opening markets in the region and abroad. The important issues that come out of the analysis are to a great extent, "second generational". That is: export diversification, the regional distribution of trade gains, completion of the "multidimensional" trade strategy and transport costs. Whereas Chile has made progress in diversifying its exports away from copper, concentration is still high even when compared to other resource intensive countries. On the regional issue, it seems clear that Chile's export-led growth in the last two decades was not evenly distributed across the regions. On Chile's "multidimensional" trade strategy, Asia is clearly the missing link in the country's wide net of preferential agreements and the evidence available suggest that transport costs are these days a more important obstacle to Chile's trade than traditional trade barriers.