Ports sector in Chile

Over 94% of Chilean foreign trade is handled through ports. If Chile maintains its current growth rate of 5-6% per year, it will need to double its port capacity every 10 years.

Market overview

Chile is committed to open market policies and has signed free trade and economic association agreements with over 50 countries. Foreign trade volume is expected to experience significant growth helped by the expansion of the Panama Canal and the development of bi-oceanic corridors, placing Chile as an ideal platform for trade between South America and the Far East as well as other Pacific Rim countries.

Between 40-50% of Chilean trade comes through the Panama Canal. Chile is currently expanding its ports capacity to accommodate Post Panamax ships.

Total cargo transfer increased in 2012 5% year-on-year to

73 million tonnes, and public access ports have increased their transferred cargo 28% over the past 6 years.

The arrival of cruise ships will increase 18.5% in the 2012-2013 season.

Key opportunities

  • Dry Ports: A number of natural and geographical barriers limit the development of new ports in Chile, resulting in the development of Dry Ports. Three ports in the north of Chile (Arica, Iquique and Antofagasta) have plans to develop such solutions, opening commercial opportunities on their implementation.

  • Transport Links: Chile’s two main ports, Valparaiso and San Antonio, lack a rail freight service. Lorries are currently used into Santiago and the south of Chile, which has caused contamination, road safety and congestion issues. The government’s future plans include the development of such rail links.

  • Port Infrastructure & equipment: The current portfolio of public sector projects includes four tenders for port operations. These include investment in infrastructure, maintenance and new technology.

Latest export opportunities in the Ports sector

Latest export opportunities – Chile

Getting into the market

Try to meet your trading partners personally. Chile is a face to face culture and Chileans have a strong preference for doing business with somebody they have actually met.

Moreover, Chileans will often open up in personal contacts and give useful information that they are reluctant to commit to paper. Introductions by a third party, such as a bank or a consulting firm, are often a key prelude to conducting business in Chile.

More about doing business in Chile


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits through our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

Contact your local international trade team

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Latest events in the Ports sector

Major Events

Seatrade Latin America Cruise Convention

Valparaiso, Chile

14-15 May 2013


Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Ports & Logistics
Countries: Chile
Export Action Plan