Pork, grapes, blueberries, and wood are some of the goods that saw negative changes when compared to October 2020.

The trade relationship between China and Chile continues to grow. Between January and October, bilateral trade increased by 41.7% compared to the first ten months of 2020, and only last month it grew 25.1%. Although the outlook looks better than during the year of COVID, some Chilean products suffered last month.

A report from Chilean Customs details that in October, exports to the Asian giant reached 2.7 billion USD. This represents more than half of the two countries’ bilateral trade, but it also reveals that exports saw a 0.9% drop compared to the same period in 2020.

Mining exports were 88.8% of the total and suffered a 0.7% drop year-over-year. They were pulled down by a 20.7% drop in copper, and the negative differences in iron, iodine, molybdenum, and zinc.

Meats and fruits

Non-mining exports to China reached 302.6 million USD, a 2.5% drop from last year. Products of animal origin were impacted in the last month: pork purchases fell 69.6% since last October, poultry by 8.4%, and beef by 11.2%. Cured meat and sausage shipments fell 71.5%, while milk and other dairy products by 15.7%.

Juan Carlos Domínguez, President of ChileCarne, explains that the slaughter of pigs in China has increased in recent months, causing a drop in prices that has led Chinese producers to choose other destinations.

He details that although shipments to the Asian giant have decreased by about 40% in recent months, total meat exports worldwide have fallen 10%.

Fruits saw a small 0.8% growth compared to October of last year, thanks to the performance of plums, apples, and avocados. Cherries showed a 100% drop compared to October 2020; they were not exported to China in the last month. Grapes, blueberries, lemons, mandarins and tangerines reported negative changes.

Ronald Bown, President of the Chilean Exporters Association (Asoex), explains that in October, the sector has a limited export supply for China. He points out that it the seasonality of each fruit is a key factor, as in some months there might be temporary drops, but not during the entire season.

Bown does warn that table grapes suffered heavy rains last season, which translated to a drop in exports. It impacted their quality, which is why during this season a higher amount was sent to more local markets.

Blueberries went to other markets with higher logistics availability. According to Asoex’s president, the decrease in exports of mandarin oranges to China is due to the better market conditions offered by the United States.

Bown says they expect to have a good fresh fruit season, which is just beginning.

“We estimate that China will continue to increase its share,” he says, and recalls that last season it grew by 12%. This season, they expect a 10% increase in total exported cherries, for which China is the main destination.

For forestry products, October showed mixed results. Although pulp shipments were 55.7% higher this year than in October 2020, wood and its manufactures, as well as paper, cardboard and its manufactures fell as compared to twelve months ago.

Bown highlighted the performance of seafood, which increased its exports by 121.1%, driven by salmon and trout, as well as shellfish. The wine sector managed to increase its exports to China by 60.9% compared to the same month of 2020.

Vehicles and apparel

In October, imports from China reached 2.7 billion USD, representing a year-over-year variation of 96.2%. Non-fuel imports accounted for 100% of purchases, where the 342.8% rise in means of transport and parts imports compared to October 2020 is noted.

Cars, vehicles for transporting goods, and tractors drove the positive change, with improvements of 550.3%, 454.2%, and 292.4%. Imports of clothing, accessories, and footwear more than doubled compared to the same month last year, and purchases of machinery rose by 52.6%, led by loaders and excavators.

In technology, TVs and game consoles imports accounted for the largest increase: 151.7% and 133.7% compared to October 2020.

Source: Diario Financiero Newspaper, November 22nd, 2021.