Chile flag Chile: Investing in Chile

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Chile

FDI in Figures

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Chile benefited from a rapid recovery in commodity terms of trade during the second half of the year that is likely to boost inflows during 2021. According to the World Investment Report 2021 published by UNCTAD, FDI flows to Chile declined by 33 % to USD 8.4 billion (compared to USD 12.5 billion in 2019), due to lower capital investment (-29 %) and lower reinvested earnings (-28 %). The country's resilience, compared to its peers in South America, stemmed from the rapid recovery in mineral prices, sustained fiscal spending (14% of GDP) and the implementation of one of the fastest vaccination campaigns in the world. From a sector-specific perspective, Chile's commitment to a green transition has created the basis for attracting additional foreign capital into green energy industries. As a matter of fact, 40% of greenfield announcements in 2020 were registered in the renewable energy industry, especially in solar electricity. FDI stocks reached USD 272 billion, a rise of more than USD 100 billion if compared to 2010. Brazil, the US, Peru and Argentina represent more than the half of the FDI stock. Investment are mainly oriented towards mining, finance and insurance, energy, commerce, and manufacturing.

Chilean economic policies, which are founded on the principle of capital transparency and non-discrimination against foreign investors, comprise one of the country's strengths. Investors are also attracted by the richness of Chile's natural resources, the stability of its macro-economic system, its growth potential, its juridical security, its low level of risk and the high quality of its infrastructure. Chile is highly regarded as one of the strongest investment destinations in Latin America and the country has made progress in facilitating starting a business procedures over the last few years by enabling online registration of closed corporations. However, the country's reliance on copper prices may negatively affect its economy and drive away some potential investors. In 2019, Huawei invested USD 100 million on a regional data storage project in Santiago; in 2020, the Chinese tech company announced that it would invest on a second data centre in the country, boosting its cloud and AI platform in South America, and in 2021 a Chinese firm Sinovac invested USD 60 million on a vaccine manufacturing plant in Santiago. Additionally, Chile ranks 59th out of 190 countries in the last Doing Business report, issued in 2020 by the World Bank, falling three spots compared to 2019. In order to gain places, the country can improve issues such as protecting minority investors, resolving insolvency, and getting credit.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 201920202021
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 15,2319,63712,719
FDI Stock (million USD) 187,572188,227180,489
Number of Greenfield Investments* 1408082
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 8,7035,4355,278

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Chile Latin America & Caribbean United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 8.0 4.1 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 6.0 5.2 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 7.0 6.7 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business, Latest available data

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

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What to consider if you invest in Chile

Strong Points

Strong points for FDI in Chile:

  • Macro-economic stability, good growth perspective
  • A top Latin American importer per capita, enjoys excellent solvency
  • High purchasing power (for Latin America)
  • Wealth of natural resources (coper, agriculture)
  • Internationalised Chilean companies
  • Labour laws that tend to be favourable towards business, mainly due to the flexibility of working hours and uncomplicated procedures for the dismissal of employees
  • Foreign companies can also benefit from privileged access to regional markets through different free trade agreements.
Weak Points

Weak points for FDI in Chile:

  • Lack of innovation, very weak spending in research and development
  • Investment in network industries is not substantial
  • Vulnerability to fluctuations in commodity prices and dependence on Chinese imports
  • Electric and road infrastructure is insufficient for the size of the territory
  • Lack of qualified work force. The activity rate of the working population is rather low, in particular among women and young people.
  • Persisting economic inequalities resulting in political and social tensions (e.g strike in mining sector), with protests regularly taking place
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI

Chile’s foreign investment policy is based on simplicity, transparency and non-discrimination towards foreign investors. Over the past years, the Government has worked to simplify investment procedures. On a fiscal level, foreign investors benefit from a moderate corporate tax and they are guaranteed access to the formal foreign exchange market, including free remittance of capital and profits. A new legal type of company has been developed, the 'Simplified Limited Company' (‘empresa individual de responsabilidad limitada' - EIRL) that allows a foreigner to create a business in Chile without needing a local partner. Also, joint stock companies can be formed without a local partner (but another legal entity is required).

The Government established a foreign investment promotion and attraction strategy that included the creation of a new national investment promotion agency, InvestChile. InvestChile assists overseas companies with their investments in Chile. The Government has identified five priority sectors for investment: mining industry services, sophisticated food industry, exportable technological services, tourism and energy/logistics.
Under Law Decree N° 600 (the so-called "Foreign Investment Statute"), a guaranteed income tax rate of 42% may be granted for ten years or, provided the capital investment project exceeds USD 50 million, 20 years for the development of industrial or extractive projects (the overall rate is comprised of the corporate tax on profits and withholding tax on dividend or branch profit distributions).

Bilateral investment conventions signed by Chile
Visit UNCTAD's Investment Policy Hub to consult the investment treaties signed by Chile.

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Latest Update: June 2022

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