Chile

Market overview

The first virus case was confirmed in Chile by the Ministry of Health on the 3rd March 2020, when the country was still facing protests and riots that had begun in October 2019.  

The cases have been concentrated in the Greater Santiago area, with outbreaks in other areas, including the Norte Grande, Araucanía, Chillán and Punta Arenas. 

No national lockdown has been established in Chile - only in some communes and urban areas.  

Chile closed its borders on 18 March and a State of Catastrophe was decreed. The number of COVID-19 cases in Chile continues to rise and the President has declared that the health system is “…under strain and close to collapse”. There is also increasing incidence of social unrest and protests, particularly in the poorer neighbourhoods, due to perceived lack of government aid.

On 28 July the Government's travel instructions were updated. Some companies from essential industries such as Public Utility Services, Security,Press, Food and trade in essential household goods, Education, and Public service are able to restart operations. 

The partial suspension of economic activities since mid-March led to a historic fall in gross domestic product (GDP) in April and May of 14.1% and 15.3% respectively and the elimination of 1.5 million jobs. The Central Bank of Chile estimates a recession of up to 7.5% by 2020, while the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates that poverty could reach 13.7%. 

The pandemic has also affected the scheduled 2020 Chilean national plebiscite (referendum). 

For more information on doing business in Chile, visit myNZTE - our free online portal for curated, in-depth information and guidance. 

Useful links (Spanish language)


Supply chain, freight & logistics

Since 18 March, all Chile's land, sea and air borders have been closed to foreign citizens. In an attempt to minimise impact on the normal supply of goods and services, this measure will not affect the entry and exit of cargo and associated personnel1.

Despite this, in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, Chile (along with Canada, Australia, Brunei and Myanmar) has joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore to commit to keeping supply chains open and removing any existing trade restrictions on essential goods, especially medical supplies.

Airlines 

For up to date information on LATAM Airlines flights and cargo options, please refer to www.latam.com

American Airlines will again begin its Miami-Santiago de Chile-Miami services. With the previous announcement, the U.S. airline will be one of the first to confirm the resumption of operations and will make these flights to Chile from 6 August. 

Government support

During the third week of August, the Senate issued a US$350,000 bonus for owners and drivers of public transportation. The initiative will provide resources to transporters - basic cabs, collective cabs, school transport and urban and rural public transport in regions.

Chile has also announced US$1.5 billion in aid for the middle class. The package provides for a credit of up to US$3,200, separated into four installments, with a zero interest rate and a four-year term for repayment, along with deferment of dividend payments with a state guarantee. In addition, it provides for the extension of a rent subsidy and credit to pay for higher education. 

Meanwhile the IMF Executive Board has approved a two-year US$23.93 Billion Flexible Credit Line Arrangement for Chile 

Emergency Economic Plan 

The Government has implemented strong economic measures, with the understanding that, in the short term, an adequate provision of liquidity in the financial system is required to enable banks to assist businesses, particularly SMEs facing cash flow difficulties; additional State support for health services, including resources to ensure sufficient staff and testing centres throughout the territory, as well as sufficient prevention, containment and mitigation measures; and exceptionally low interest rates to strengthen the demand for fiscal policy and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable businesses and social groups. 

  • First package

Emergency economic plan focusing on employment and income protection for families, as well as liquidity for SMEs (US$11.700 million), which includes: a law on employment protection, safeguarding 4.7 million workers by allowing them access to unemployment insurance benefits and prohibiting force majeure layoffs; a family income support bonus for the most vulnerable groups, which will be offered to almost 3 million people, worth $ 50,000 (approximately USD 58); a new capitalization to BancoEstado for US$500 million; the suspension of stamp duty for 6 months. As a complement, the Congress has adopted several measures aimed at providing liquidity to the fiscal funds: suspension for the period 2020-2021 of the contribution to the Pension Reserve Fund, equivalent to 0.2% of the GDP; authorisation to borrow up to US$4 billion; "War economy", meaning that all public divisions must transfer resources from their accounts to a fiscal fund; postponement in 24 months of the Financing Mechanism for Strategic National Defence Capabilities. 

  • Second package

A new fund was announced to protect families for a total amount of US$5 billion. This was made possible by the savings that Chile had in the past. It has two aspects: one is the protection of economic activity, with the aim of mobilizing credit for companies that represent 84% of employment (funds of up to US$3 billion); and the other is income protection for the most vulnerable sector of our population (funds of up to US$2 billion), an initiative that will benefit nearly 3 million people through budget reallocations. 

  • Third package

President Piñera announced a bill that creates insurance for the salaries of independent workers, as another support measure in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. This initiative will benefit more than 1.2 million Chileans and will be given to those independent workers who experience a drop in their salaries equal to or greater than 20% of their average income, with at least 4 or 8 contributions during the last 12 and 24 months, respectively. 

On 19 May, the Government announced 5 new measures. The actions are in addition to the Social Protection Plan and include the creation of a fund with a state guarantee so that SMEs have more access to credit. 

1. Supply

To help the most vulnerable families who are facing food supply problems, the Government will begin distributing 2.5 million food baskets and other essential items. 

2. Access to credit for MSMEs

Given the difficulty of many MSMEs to access working capital loans with banks, the Government is structuring a State-Guaranteed Fund and a Network of Non-Banking Financial Institutions, to reach more quickly and deeply with working capital loans for the smallest enterprises, which are the support of hundreds of thousands of families. 

3. Healthy-Mind Program

Aware of the impact of the deficiencies and pain that quarantines imply on the mental health of many Chileans, and gathering the contributions of the Covid-19 Social Roundtable - formed by government authorities, mayors, academics and health professionals to coordinate and collaborate to face the virus in a more effective way - the Government will soon launch a special accompaniment program called Saludable-Mente, which will strengthen the public and private mental health offer in our country and will include a digital platform for consultation, support and recommendations in this matter. 

4. Expansion of the network of health care homes

Given the difficulties faced by many families in isolating and caring for infected family members in their own homes, the Government will expand and strengthen the existing Network of Health Care Homes nationwide to accommodate those in need, with special concern and priority for the elderly. 

5. Improvement in the delivery of information

As part of the ongoing effort to improve the quantity and quality of information that the Government makes available to society regarding the coronavirus, it will begin to provide disaggregated information at the level of each commune, which will allow for more effective action by mayors.


Sector insights

As is to be expected, numerous sectors have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Below you'll find information on any COVID-19 effects across important sectors and industries in Chile.

Forestry

The sector, through their Forestry Corporation (CORMA), has joined forces to ensure the supply of essential products to the supply chain. However, they are working with only essential workers in order to comply with Government preventative measures to protect the health of their workers.

Companies have also contributed with special measures for the emergency. For example, CMPC (paper products) through their subsidiary Softys (hygiene products) will manufacture 1 million masks per month to supply community health centres for free. The company purchased two machines to manufacture them.

Arauco's US$2.5 billion project MAPA continues but has had some opposition from workers due to some COVID-19 cases being recorded by some workers on the construction site. However, Arauco announced extra preventative measures to protect the health of their workers so the project can continue.

Additional resources

Below you can find information and contact details for other New Zealand government and international agencies regarding their response to COVID-19.

New Zealand Government agencies

Covid19.govt.nz
COVID-19 helpline for businesses
Business.govt.nz
New Zealand Customs
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
New Zealand Export Credit (NZEC)
MFAT Export Helpline
MFAT Safetravel
Callaghan Innovation
Immigration
Ministry of Health
WorkSafe New Zealand
myNZTE

Global agencies

World Health Organization (WHO)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Contact NZTE

We're available to talk to you about any issues your export business is facing due to COVID-19.

For existing NZTE customers, please contact your New Zealand-based Customer Manager.

If you're unsure who to contact or haven't worked with us before, you can call NZTE on 0800 555 888 or email below and one of our Customer Advisors will help you.