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Chile vs. Argentina

Economy

ChileArgentina
Economy - overview

Chile has a market-oriented economy characterized by a high level of foreign trade and a reputation for strong financial institutions and sound policy that have given it the strongest sovereign bond rating in South America. Exports of goods and services account for approximately one-third of GDP, with commodities making up some 60% of total exports. Copper is Chile’s top export and provides 20% of government revenue.

From 2003 through 2013, real growth averaged almost 5% per year, despite a slight contraction in 2009 that resulted from the global financial crisis. Growth slowed to an estimated 1.4% in 2017. A continued drop in copper prices prompted Chile to experience its third consecutive year of slow growth.

Chile deepened its longstanding commitment to trade liberalization with the signing of a free trade agreement with the US, effective 1 January 2004. Chile has 26 trade agreements covering 60 countries including agreements with the EU, Mercosur, China, India, South Korea, and Mexico. In May 2010, Chile signed the OECD Convention, becoming the first South American country to join the OECD. In October 2015, Chile signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which was finalized as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and signed at a ceremony in Chile in March 2018.

The Chilean Government has generally followed a countercyclical fiscal policy, under which it accumulates surpluses in sovereign wealth funds during periods of high copper prices and economic growth, and generally allows deficit spending only during periods of low copper prices and growth. As of 31 October 2016, those sovereign wealth funds - kept mostly outside the country and separate from Central Bank reserves - amounted to more than $23.5 billion. Chile used these funds to finance fiscal stimulus packages during the 2009 economic downturn.

In 2014, then-President Michelle BACHELET introduced tax reforms aimed at delivering her campaign promise to fight inequality and to provide access to education and health care. The reforms are expected to generate additional tax revenues equal to 3% of Chile’s GDP, mostly by increasing corporate tax rates to OECD averages.

Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. Although one of the world's wealthiest countries 100 years ago, Argentina suffered during most of the 20th century from recurring economic crises, persistent fiscal and current account deficits, high inflation, mounting external debt, and capital flight.

Cristina FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER succeeded her husband as president in late 2007, and in 2008 the rapid economic growth of previous years slowed sharply as government policies held back exports and the world economy fell into recession. In 2010 the economy rebounded strongly, but slowed in late 2011 even as the government continued to rely on expansionary fiscal and monetary policies, which kept inflation in the double digits.

In order to deal with these problems, the government expanded state intervention in the economy: it nationalized the oil company YPF from Spain's Repsol, expanded measures to restrict imports, and further tightened currency controls in an effort to bolster foreign reserves and stem capital flight. Between 2011 and 2013, Central Bank foreign reserves dropped $21.3 billion from a high of $52.7 billion. In July 2014, Argentina and China agreed on an $11 billion currency swap; the Argentine Central Bank has received the equivalent of $3.2 billion in Chinese yuan, which it counts as international reserves.

With the election of President Mauricio MACRI in November 2015, Argentina began a historic political and economic transformation, as his administration took steps to liberalize the Argentine economy, lifting capital controls, floating the peso, removing export controls on some commodities, cutting some energy subsidies, and reforming the country’s official statistics. Argentina negotiated debt payments with holdout bond creditors, continued working with the IMF to shore up its finances, and returned to international capital markets in April 2016.

In 2017, Argentina’s economy emerged from recession with GDP growth of nearly 3.0%. The government passed important pension, tax, and fiscal reforms. And after years of international isolation, Argentina took on several international leadership roles, including hosting the World Economic Forum on Latin America and the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, and is set to assume the presidency of the G-20 in 2018.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$452.1 billion (2017 est.)
$445.5 billion (2016 est.)
$439.9 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$922.1 billion (2017 est.)
$896.5 billion (2016 est.)
$913.2 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - real growth rate
1.03% (2019 est.)
4% (2018 est.)
1.41% (2017 est.)
-2.03% (2019 est.)
-2.53% (2018 est.)
2.83% (2017 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$24,600 (2017 est.)
$24,500 (2016 est.)
$24,400 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$20,900 (2017 est.)
$20,600 (2016 est.)
$21,200 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 4.2% (2017 est.)
industry: 32.8% (2017 est.)
services: 63% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 10.8% (2017 est.)
industry: 28.1% (2017 est.)
services: 61.1% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
14.4% (2013)
25.7% (2017 est.)

note: data are based on private estimates

Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 41.5% (2013 est.)
lowest 10%: 1.8%
highest 10%: 31% (2017 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
2.2% (2017 est.)
3.8% (2016 est.)
25.7% (2017 est.)
26.5% (2016 est.)

note: data are derived from private estimates

Labor force
7.249 million (2020 est.)
18 million (2017 est.)

note: urban areas only

Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 9.2%
industry: 23.7%
services: 67.1% (2013)
agriculture: 5.3%
industry: 28.6%
services: 66.1% (2017 est.)
Unemployment rate
7.22% (2019 est.)
7.33% (2018 est.)
9.84% (2019 est.)
9.18% (2018 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index
50.5 (2013)
57.1 (2000)
41.7 (2017 est.)
45.8 (2009)
Budget
revenues: 57.75 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 65.38 billion (2017 est.)
revenues: 120.6 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 158.6 billion (2017 est.)
Industries
copper, lithium, other minerals, foodstuffs, fish processing, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transport equipment, cement, textiles
food processing, motor vehicles, consumer durables, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals, printing, metallurgy, steel
Industrial production growth rate
-0.4% (2017 est.)
2.7% (2017 est.)

note: based on private sector estimates

Agriculture - products
grapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, garlic, asparagus, beans; beef, poultry, wool; fish; timber
sunflower seeds, lemons, soybeans, grapes, corn, tobacco, peanuts, tea, wheat; livestock
Exports
$69.23 billion (2017 est.)
$60.6 billion (2016 est.)
$58.45 billion (2017 est.)
$57.78 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
copper, fruit, fish products, paper and pulp, chemicals, wine
soybeans and derivatives, petroleum and gas, vehicles, corn, wheat
Exports - partners
China 27.5%, US 14.5%, Japan 9.3%, South Korea 6.2%, Brazil 5% (2017)
Brazil 16.1%, US 7.9%, China 7.5%, Chile 4.4% (2017)
Imports
$61.31 billion (2017 est.)
$55.29 billion (2016 est.)
$63.97 billion (2017 est.)
$53.5 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, electrical and telecommunications equipment, industrial machinery, vehicles, natural gas
machinery, motor vehicles, petroleum and natural gas, organic chemicals, plastics
Imports - partners
China 23.9%, US 18.1%, Brazil 8.6%, Argentina 4.5%, Germany 4% (2017)
Brazil 26.9%, China 18.5%, US 11.3%, Germany 4.9% (2017)
Debt - external
$183.4 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$158.1 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$214.9 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$190.2 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
Chilean pesos (CLP) per US dollar -
653.9 (2017 est.)
676.94 (2016 est.)
676.94 (2015 est.)
658.93 (2014 est.)
570.37 (2013 est.)
Argentine pesos (ARS) per US dollar -
16.92 (2017 est.)
14.76 (2016 est.)
14.76 (2015 est.)
9.23 (2014 est.)
8.08 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year
calendar year
Public debt
23.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
21% of GDP (2016 est.)
57.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
55% of GDP (2016 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$38.98 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$40.49 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$55.33 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$38.43 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$10.933 billion (2019 est.)
-$10.601 billion (2018 est.)
-$3.997 billion (2019 est.)
-$27.049 billion (2018 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)
$277 billion (2017 est.)
$637.6 billion (2017 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
$206.2 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$199.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$76.58 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$72.11 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad
$95.37 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$90.54 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$40.94 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$39.74 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares
$190.4 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$233.2 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$265.2 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$56.13 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$60.14 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$53.1 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Central bank discount rate
3.35% (31 December 2015)
3% (31 December 2014)

NA

Commercial bank prime lending rate
4.6% (31 December 2017 est.)
5.59% (31 December 2016 est.)
26.58% (31 December 2017 est.)
31.23% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$244.3 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$211.6 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$219.4 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$194 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$52.54 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$44.01 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$62.61 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$59 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$52.54 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$44.01 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$62.61 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$59 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
20.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
18.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-2.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
-6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 18.1%
male: 16.7%
female: 20.2% (2018 est.)
total: 23.7%
male: 20.8%
female: 27.8% (2018 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 62.3% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 14% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 21.5% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0.5% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 28.7% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -27% (2017 est.)
household consumption: 65.9% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 18.2% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 14.8% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 3.7% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 11.2% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -13.8% (2017 est.)
Gross national saving
20.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
20.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
21.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
17.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
16.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
15.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook