“At this stage we don’t see a major impact on the Chilean economy; I think the effects of this coronavirus pandemic are still limited,” finance minister, Ignacio Briones told foreign journalists in Santiago. Chilean exporters to China - chief among them fruit growers, paper firms and miners - had reported delays and logistical problems but no interruption in orders, Briones said. Chile sends around 30% of its exports to China and 50% of its copper.
Export earnings from the current Chilean campaign fruit could fall by $100mn as a result of the coronavirus outbreak in China, according to exporter association Asoex. Port congestion, low demand and a shortage of store and delivery workers are taking toll on demand. Of the estimated 1,500 containers of cherries that remain in the market, just 249 were sold during the first 48 hours since wholesale markets reopened this week, said Asoex president Ronald Bown.
The Chilean ambassador to China, Luis Schmidt, reported that Chilean copper exports have not shown any inconvenience in their entry to ports, according to their conversations with shipping and importing companies. However, he pointed out that port activity is slower after an extended weekend and food income is being given priority, so that shipments of cherry and other Chilean fruits are not experiencing major difficulties either.
China accounted for 32% of Chilean exports in 2019, while imports from the Asian country were 24%, according to the latest report of the Undersecretariat of International Economic Relations (Subrei). China received 47% of Chilean mining exports, 31% of the agricultural sector and 48% of processed foods.