Relatively free of the coups and arbitrary governments that have afflicted much of South America, the stable political situation in Chile has aided their economic development making Chile the wealthiest South American country by GDP per capita and the 44th largest economy in the world by GDP. Though Chile did not completely escape the effects of the global economic crisis from 2007, its stable economy at the hands of prudent management, higher mineral prices and a capable financial system ensured a speedy recovery with a fiscal surplus and a low level of borrowing.
Economic success was founded on exportation of raw materials, notably copper, with mining as Chile’s largest economic sector, followed by agriculture and forestry. The liberalisation of European and Asian markets has also increased exports of vegetables, fruit, fishmeal and fish, on top of being a leading wine-producing country. The Government actively encourages foreign investment in the market-orientated economy with practically all forms of business permitted. Chile remains a tax-friendly, low corruption and therefore low-risk area for business ventures.
Successful business relationships in Chile will predominantly be formed on a human level rather than strictly corporate. Initiating a friendly and trusting rapport will be key in first meetings as personal relationships take precedent over business matters, while it is important to also be aware, in this potentially diverse strip of South America, of the cultural customs and particulars while doing business in Chile.
Despite the advantages of the Chilean market, the potential risks of doing business here include a degree of discrimination against women in the public sphere, discrimination against minorities and issues with the indigenous population – circa 8% of the total population – with occasional violent protests on land and territory issues.
The World Business Culture website is an invaluable source of information for those considering doing business in Chile, providing advice on customs, cultures, infrastructure and the economy to aid business ventures into this area of Latin America.