The Asian giant has become a crucial trading partner for Chile, particularly in the agriculture and livestock sector. With a population of more than 1.4 billion people and a food culture where pork takes center stage, demand for this product is very high. Nevertheless, the economy’s current volatility underscores the need for flexible strategies and continuous market surveillance to maximize economic benefits for this significant food sector in Chile.

In 2023, Chinese pork imports exceeded 130,000 tons, nearly tripling the figures of the previous decade, highlighting this market’s significance for Chile’s pork industry.

The trade relationship between Chile and China has strengthened since 1970, when Chile became the first South American country to establish diplomatic relations with China. This relationship deepened in 2005 with the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the first of its kind between China and a Latin American country. The agreement has been fundamental in eliminating tariffs and facilitating agricultural trade, including meat.

Thanks to the FTA, Chilean exports to China keep growing steadily. In 2023, China led imports from Chile with transactions valued at $37.4 billion USD, representing 38% of Chilean exports.

Last April, the visit of China’s Vice Minister of Customs, Wang Lingjun, marked a milestone in bilateral trade relations. A customs protocol was signed in the presence of Chilean President Gabriel Boric, highlighting the importance of promoting foreign trade. The agreement is part of the 2023-2025 Sustainable Agri-Export Competitiveness Agenda, aimed at further diversifying Chilean exports to China.

The ceremony concluded with the signing of significant agricultural agreements, reinforcing cooperation in organic food certification, health protocols, and the sector’s growth. The Chilean Minister of Agriculture, Esteban Valenzuela, and Vice Minister Wang highlighted both countries’ ongoing commitment to strengthening bilateral trade and opening new opportunities for more inclusive and diversified trade beyond white meat.

China remains the world’s largest pork consumer, and despite a slight 3.6% increase in domestic consumption during 2023, demand is still strong. Spain emerged as the leading supplier with 22.8% of total imports, followed by the United States and Brazil, each with 16%.

Chile has capitalized on this opportunity by exporting substantial quantities of pork to China. In 2023, Chilean pork exports to China reached 129,000 tons, accounting for 44% of total pork exports and generating $224 million USD. This places Chile as the eighth-largest pork supplier to China, strengthening its presence in this vast market.

Future prospects: Rabobank’s Q2 2024 Report and Global AgriTrends Analysis

Rabobank’s newest report revealed significant volatility in pork prices during the first quarter of 2024. This is mainly attributed to seasonal demand linked to holidays, an oversupply resulting from previous liquidations, and large frozen meat inventories. As of mid-March, prices have gradually rebounded due to a reduction in supply in certain regions, signaling an upward trend for the second quarter of the year.

This scenario represents both challenges and opportunities for Chile. Pork exports to China dropped by 40% in the first months of 2024, largely due to the fragility of the Asian market and the high stocks of frozen products. However, this trend is expected to partially reverse during the second quarter, although Chinese imports are likely to remain below the previous year’s levels.

Rabobank’s analysis suggests an improved pork supply and demand balance in China by the second half of 2024, potentially stabilizing the market and providing more predictability for Chilean exporters. The expectation of higher prices in the Chinese market could foster a gradual recovery in Chilean exports, thereby strengthening the trade relationship between the two countries.

Chile’s ability to adapt to these fluctuations will be crucial. With a robust export infrastructure and rapid reaction capacity to global market dynamics, Chile could seize emerging opportunities and maintain its competitive edge in the Asian market. The current volatility underscores the need for flexible strategies and close market monitoring to maximize economic benefits in this vital sector of the Chilean economy.

According to data from Global AgriTrends, China’s exports and imports have shown a slight 1.5% increase. However, domestic demand remains a challenge, as it continues to stay at very low levels. However, an economic growth of approximately 5% is expected for 2024, contingent on an increase in domestic demand. Imports, although still low, are also expected to experience a slight increase for the remainder of 2024.

For more information about Rabobank’s Q2 report, visit: