Executive Summary

Chile is an attractive destination in Latin America for investors who value its open market economy, well-developed institutions and strong rule of law. The government has a positive disposition toward foreign direct investment (FDI). Chile’s legal framework for attracting and protecting FDI is solid. The Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (APIE), created in 2015, provides services for FDI in four categories: attraction, pre-investment, landing and after-care. Very few restrictions upon FDI exist. Chile’s conversion and transfer policies are similar to those found in highly-developed countries like the United States Chile’s capital markets are well-developed and open to foreign portfolio investors, and the regulatory system in Chile is generally transparent. Resolving insolvency is easier by a new legal and institutional framework. Chile has 41 bilateral investment agreements in force, and 24 other investment agreements in force, including the investment chapter of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States. A U.S.-Chile bilateral treaty to avoid double taxation was ratified by Chile, and is currently awaiting ratification in the U.S. Senate.

Private property rights, including foreign ownership and establishment, are generally respected in Chile. Mineral, hydrocarbon, and fossil fuel deposits within Chilean territory are restricted from foreign ownership, but may be licensed by the government. CODELCO, one of the predominant players in the copper mining industry, is one of only a few state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which generally operate on equal footing with private companies. Intellectual property (IP) rights are generally respected, but Chile is not fully compliant with the obligations concerning IP set forth in the U.S.-Chile FTA.

Corruption exists in Chile but on a much smaller scale than is the case with most Latin American countries. Chile has a favorable ranking of 24 out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index. A presidential committee against corruption and conflicts of interest created in 2015 issued a report recommending an anticorruption agenda of 236 new measures, laws and regulations, nearly half of which have already been implemented.

In recent years, perceptions of Chile’s investment climate have deteriorated somewhat. Many large investments faced unexpected costs and delays due to permitting processes (especially environmental, but also municipal) that can be opaque, unpredictable, and subject to political pressures. Communities are increasingly hostile to large investment projects and adept at using the court system and mandatory indigenous consultation requirements to obstruct them. A shift in Chile’s politics away from the neoliberal model the government has pursued since the 1980s sometimes disadvantaged firms that are invested in the existing model. Reforms launched by the current center-left administration increased the complexity of and costs of compliance with corporate tax and labor regimes. New regulations are seldom opened to formal input from private stakeholders during the development stage.

As legal disputes can take several years to reach conclusion in the courts, arbitration and mediation are attractive alternatives for resolving business controversies. Chile is a signatory to the 1958 New York Arbitration Convention and a member state to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID); disputes under the U.S.-Chile bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are resolved under the latter framework.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 24 of 176 http://www.transparency.org/
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2016 57 of 190 doingbusiness.org/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2016 44 of 128 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2015 27,331 http://www.bea.gov/
World Bank GNI per capita (USD) 2015 USD 14,100 http://data.worldbank.org/

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

For over three decades, Chile made FDI an essential part of its national development strategy. Chile’s market-oriented policies created significant opportunities for foreign investors to participate in the country’s economic growth. Chile’s business climate is generally straightforward and transparent, though permitting processes and court proceedings are increasingly unpredictable, especially in cases with political sensitivities. Foreign investors receive treatment similar to Chilean nationals and laws and practices are not discriminatory against foreign investment. Under the recently reformed institutional framework for FDI, the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (APIE), also known as InvestChile (http://www.investchile.gob.cl/en/) , is in charge of implementing the national FDI attraction policy. It provides services in four categories: attraction (offer of investment opportunities and value propositions), pre-investment (specialized advisory services for decision-making), landing (advice for installation, matchmaking and management of inquiries related to other government agencies) and after-care (assistance for exporting and linkages with domestic suppliers). The latter is aimed to retain foreign investment inflows by encouraging re-investment.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign investors have access to all productive activities, except for the internal waterways freight transportation sector, where foreign equity ownership of companies is capped at 49 percent. Some international reciprocity restrictions exist for fishing. Chile does not restrict the right to private ownership or establishment, except for some strategic activities such as nuclear energy and mining. The Constitution establishes the “absolute, exclusive, inalienable and permanent domain” of the Chilean state over all mineral, hydrocarbon, and fossil fuel deposits within Chilean territory. However, Chilean law allows the government to grant concession rights to individuals and companies for exploration and exploitation activities, and to assign contracts to private investors. These concessions and contracts are assigned without discrimination against foreign investors. An enterprise in Chile can be 100 percent owned by foreigners.

There are no restrictions on foreign investment in telecommunications, but investors must acquire a license, and the number of licenses available is limited in some new sectors of the industry. The requirements for obtaining certain licenses in this sector remain unclear as the industry evolves; at least one U.S.-based firm experienced significant delays in 2013 attempting to secure licenses due to opaque license granting requirements. These delays are still ongoing.

FDI is subject to pro forma screening by InvestChile. Businesses in general do not consider that such screening mechanisms constitute a barrier to investment, because approval procedures are expeditious and, with the exception of a few sensitive sectors, all investments are approved. Investment proposals approval by InvestChile is required for investments exceeding USD five million or investments made in certain sectors, including the media and the provision of public services, and investments made by foreign governments or by foreign public entities.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The government of Chile has conducted an investment policy review in the context of the Trade Policy Review published by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on June 2015, available here: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp415_e.htm 

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has not conducted an Investment Policy Review for Chile since 1997, and the country has not been covered by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) Investment Policy Reviews.

Business Facilitation

The Chilean government took significant steps towards business facilitation, and Chile is currently the country with the smoothest procedures to establish a foreign-owned company in Latin America and the Caribbean. The pace of reform has been particularly rapid since 2010.

Entrepreneurs have to go through seven steps, some of them simultaneous, taking in total an average of 5.5 days:

Draft statutes of the company and obtain an authentication number: since 2011, this step can be done online at the platform www.empresasenundia.cl . The system provides the certificate of existence immediately, and it automatically assigns a tax payer ID number (called RUT) to the company (which is the same as the Company Registration ID).

Have a notary certify the statutes with a digital signature online, or subscribe the document online for which an advanced electronic signature (a token) is required.

Give notice of initiation of activities. This is a sworn statement that can be submitted online to inform the Internal Tax Service (www.sii.cl ) that the taxpayer will start to develop economical activities.

Print receipts/invoices in an authorized printing company. This step has been replaced by the mandatory use of electronic invoicing on August 1, 2016, for firms with annual sales over a threshold of nearly USD 100,000.

Seal accounting books, invoices and other documents at the Internal Tax Service.

Obtain a working license from the corresponding municipality for each of the enterprise’s establishments, offices, warehouses, and so forth.

Register to obtain a labor-related accident insurance mandatory for employers, either with the Institute of Occupational Safety (public) or with one of three private nonprofit entities.

Outward Investment

The government of Chile does not have an active policy of promotion or incentives for outward investment, nor does it impose restrictions on it. The Trade Directorate (Direcon) conducts an analytical monitoring of trends in Chilean investment abroad, available in this report: https://www.direcon.gob.cl/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/001_Presencia-ID-Cl-en-mundo-1990-dic2015.pdf 

According to ICSID, Chile signed 55 Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), 41 of which are in force to date. There are agreements in force with Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg, Bolivia, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Italy, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland (2 treaties), Portugal, Romania, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland (1999 treaty), Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Uruguay (2 treaties), and Venezuela. BITs signed but not in force include those with Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Lebanon, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland (1991 treaty), Tunisia, Turkey and Vietnam. Chile has an investment chapter in the FTA in force between Chile and the U.S. since January 1, 2004.

According to UNCTAD’s database (http://investmentpolicyhub.unctad.org/IIA ), Chile has other investment treaties with 29 countries, of which 24 are in force. Apart from U.S.-Chile FTA, Chile’s other FTAs with investment chapters are the agreements signed (in chronological order) with: Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia (1993 agreement), Mercosur, Canada, Mexico, the Central American Common Market, the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, India, the P-4 parties (Brunei Darussalam, New Zealand and Singapore), China, Panama, Peru, Colombia (2006 agreement), Japan, Ecuador, Australia, Turkey, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Other treaties trough which Chile grants bilateral or plurilateral investment protection include the LAIA Treaty, the Additional Protocol of the Pacific Alliance and the Brazil-Chile Cooperation and Facilitation Investment Agreement.

Chile and the United States signed in 2010 the U.S.-Chile Treaty to Avoid Double Taxation. The Chilean Congress ratified the treaty in September 2015. In May 2012, it was submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification, which is pending. Chile has 32 double taxation treaties in force with: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and the United Kingdom. Apart from the U.S.-Chile treaty, Chile has other double taxation treaty pending ratification with Uruguay.

Chile’s 2014 Tax Reform increased the effective income tax rate on dividends or profits earned by taxpayers residents in other countries up to 44.45 percent. This change is only applied to residents from countries without a bilateral taxation treaty in force with Chile (such as the United States), while residents from the 32 countries with such a treaty will keep this tax burden at 35 percent.

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Chilean regulatory systems tend to be transparent, but in recent years are more lengthy and unpredictable, especially in politically sensitive cases. Environmental permits in particular are an increasingly complicated process due to mandatory indigenous consultation requirements arising from Chile’s ratification of the International Labor Organization’s Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (ILO 169). That said, most legal, regulatory, and accounting systems provide clear rules for competition and a level playing field for foreigners.

Four institutions play key roles in the rule-making process in Chile: the Ministry General-Secretariat of the Presidency (SEGPRES), the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy, and the General Comptroller of the Republic. However, Chile does not have in its institutional set up a regulatory oversight body. Most regulations are decided at the national level, but some, in particular related to permits for land use, are decided at the local level.

The legislation process in Chile allows for public hearings during discussion of draft bills in both Chambers of Congress. Draft bills submitted by the Executive Branch to the Congress are readily available for public comment. This has also been the case for the legislation that replaced the Decree Law 600 regulating foreign investment.

Ministries and regulatory agencies are required by law to give notice of proposed regulations, but there is no formal requirement in Chile for consultation with the general public (except as per ILO 169), conducting regulatory impact assessments of proposed regulations, requesting comments, or reporting results of consultations on proposed regulations. For lower-level regulations or norms that do not need Congressional approval, there are no formal provisions for public hearing or comment. As a result, Chilean regulators and rulemaking bodies normally consult with stakeholders but in a less regular manner. According to the World Bank’s Citizen Engagement in Rulemaking report, in Chile the steps mentioned above (notice, publication, comments, report and impact assessment) are followed in practice. However, the WB report is based on a small number of agencies (mostly under the Ministry of Economy) and its results do not necessarily reflect all ministries and agencies involved in rulemaking. In addition, the report does not capture the quality of such engagement and assessment.

In practice, Chile often does not conduct open public consultation processes for draft bills before they are submitted to Congress, and private sector representatives have noted that making changes to bills once they are already in Congress is quite difficult. Some open comment periods for new draft bills have reportedly taken place without real access to the text and did not sufficiently allow for a technical debate.

The OECD “Regulatory Policy in Chile” report issued in April 2016 finds that Chile took steps to improve its rule-making process, but still lags behind the OECD average in assessing the impact of regulations, consulting with outside parties on their design and evaluating them over time. The report criticizes that most regulators in Chile prepare new norms without clear evidence that regulation is the best way to intervene. One of the main findings is Chile’s lack of a regulatory oversight body, and recommends its creation to oversee the rule-making process currently managed by different government departments. It also recommends that Chile develops mandatory standards and guidelines for the preparation of laws and regulations, including compulsory consultation practices and forward planning. Regulatory management tools such as regulatory impact assessments and ex-post evaluations are also recommended.

All decrees and laws are published in the Diario Oficial (National Gazzette), but other types of regulations will not necessarily be found there, and there are no other centralized online locations where regulations in Chile are published, similar to the Federal Register in the United States.

International Regulatory Considerations

Chile does not share regulatory sovereignty with any regional economic bloc. However, several international norms or standards are referenced or incorporated into the country’s regulatory system. As a member of the WTO, the government notifies draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).

Legal System and Judicial Independence

The legal system of Chile is based on civil law. The basis for its public law is the 1980 Constitution which was most recently reformed in 2005. Chile’s legal and regulatory framework provides for effective means for enforcing property and contractual rights. However, in cases where firms face complaints filed by local communities or workers, especially in cases that concern compliance with permitting requirements or procedures, courts tended to side against private firms. Laws governing issues of interest to foreign investors are found in several statutes, including the Commercial Code of 1868, the Civil Code, the Labor Code and the General Banking Act. Chile has specialized courts for dealing with tax and labor issues. The judicial system in Chile is generally transparent and independent. The likelihood of government intervention in court cases is low. If a state-owned firm is involved in the dispute, the Government of Chile may become directly involved through the State Defense Council. In cases where courts determine a firm is bankrupt, a receiver is named to distribute the debtor’s remaining assets to the creditors.

Regulations can be challenged before the court system, the National Comptroller, or the Constitutional Court, depending on the nature of the claim.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

See the section on Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

Foreign investors are not required to seek a ruling before investing on the potential competition implications of a planned investment. Chile’s anti-trust law, the Chilean Free Competition Act (1973), which was amended in 2016, prohibits mergers or acquisitions that would prevent free competition in the industry at issue. An investor may voluntarily seek a ruling by an Antitrust Court that a planned investment would not have antitrust implications. The National Economic Prosecutor (FNE) is in charge of conducting investigations for competition-related cases and filing complaints before the Free Competition Tribunal (TDLC), which rules on those cases.

Four competition cases involving foreign investments had important developments over the past year. In October 2015, CMPC and Sweden’s SCA subsidiary PISA, two of the biggest paper manufacturers in Chile, were accused of having colluded for at least a decade to control the Chilean tissue and toilet paper market, inflating prices. The details of a compensation plan in which the two companies will be required to reimburse Chileans will be published during 2017. In January 2016, the FNE filed a complaint accusing the supermarket chains Cencosud, SMU and Walmart Chile (U.S owned) of colluding to fix a minimum retail price for chicken meat, at least between 2008 and 2011. In November 2016, the TDLC approved a settlement agreement with G.D. Searle. In August 2016, the FNE accused two pharmaceutical companies: Laboratorio Biosano, and Fresenius Kabi Chile and Laboratorio Sanderson (local subsidiaries of Germany-based Fresenius), of forming a cartel to rig bids in public tenders for the procurement of ampoules.

Expropriation and Compensation

Chilean law grants the government authority to expropriate property, including property of foreign investors, only for public or national interests, on a non-discriminatory basis and in accordance with due process. The government has not nationalized a private firm since 1973. Expropriations of private land have only taken place in a transparent and justified manner, generally when the purpose is to build roads or other types of infrastructure. The law requires the payment of compensation without delay at fair market value, in addition to any applicable interest.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Since 1991, Chile has been a member state to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID Convention). In 1975 Chile became a signatory to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958 New York Convention). National arbitration law in Chile includes the Civil Procedure Code (Law Num. 1552, modified by Law Num. 20.217 of 2007), and the Law Num. 19.971 on International Commercial Arbitration.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Since 1958, Chile has been party to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention). It is also a party to (i) the Pan-American Convention on Private International Law (Bustamante Code) since 1934; (ii) the Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration (Panama Convention) since 1976; and (iii) the Washington Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States since 1992. Chile also has a FTA with the United States in force since 2004, which includes an Investment Chapter. This chapter provides a mechanism for investors to pursue a claim against a host government that is in breach of the FTA’s investment obligations, an investment agreement, or an investment authorization. The investor pursuing a claim may by right submit a claim under the ICSID Convention or under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) arbitration rules, or any other mutually agreed upon arbitral institution. So far no claims have been filed by U.S. investors under the agreement. Over the past 10 years, the only investment dispute brought by a U.S. person or other foreign investor was one case brought by a Spanish citizen against the state of Chile, which is pending resolution. Local courts respect and enforce foreign arbitral awards, and there is no history of extrajudicial action against foreign investors.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

The U.S.-Chile FTA chapter on investments encourages consultations or negotiations before recourse to dispute settlement mechanisms. If the parties fail to resolve the matter, a claim for arbitration can be submitted by the investor. Provisions in Section C of the FTA ensure that the proceedings are transparent by requiring that all documents submitted to or issued by the tribunal be available to the public, and by stipulating that proceedings be public. The tribunal must also accept amicus curiae submissions. The FTA chapter on investments establishes clear and specific terms for making proceedings more efficient and avoiding frivolous claims. Chilean law is generally to be applied to all contracts. However, arbitral tribunals decide disputes in accordance with FTA obligations and applicable international law.

Mediation and binding arbitration exist in Chile as alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. A suit may also be brought in court under expedited procedures involving the abrogation of constitutional rights. The Judiciary Code and the Code of Civil Procedure govern domestic arbitration. Local courts respect and enforce foreign arbitral awards and judgments of foreign courts. Chile has a dual arbitration system in terms of regulation, meaning that different bodies of law govern domestic and international arbitration. International commercial arbitration is governed by the International Commercial Arbitration Act that is modeled on the 1985 UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. In addition to this statute, there is also Decree Law Number 2349 that regulates International Contracts for the Public Sector and sets forth a specific legal framework for the State and its entities to submit their disputes to international arbitration.

No Chilean SOEs have been involved in investment disputes in recent decades.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Chile implemented a new Insolvency Law in October 2014, replacing a 1982 law. The new framework avoids punishing entrepreneurs for bankruptcy, allowing them instead to use resources and restart economic activities. Among other outcomes, it reportedly clarified and simplified liquidation and reorganization of businesses, introduced provisions to facilitate the continuation of the debtor’s business during insolvency, established a public office responsible for the general administration of insolvency proceedings (the new Superintendence of Insolvency and Re-entrepreneurship) and created specialized insolvency courts. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Chile made significant progress under this new insolvency framework in making resolving insolvency easier, which resulted on Chile escalating from 72nd place in 2014 to 55th place in 2017 in the respective section of the ranking.

The new Chilean insolvency framework requests creditors’ approval for selection or appointment of the insolvency representative and for sale of substantial assets of the debtor. The creditor also has the right to object to decisions accepting or rejecting creditors’ claims. However, the creditor is not given the right to request information from the insolvency representative. The creditor may file for insolvency of the debtor, but for liquidation only. The creditors are divided into classes for the purposes of voting on the reorganization plan, each class votes separately and creditors in the same class are treated equally.

Investment Incentives

Chile does not subsidize foreign investment. There are, however, some incentives directed to isolated geographical zones and to the information technology sector. These benefits relate to co-financing of feasibility studies as well as to incentives for the purchase of land in industrial zones, the hiring of local labor, and the facilitation of project financing. Other important incentives include accelerated depreciation accounting for tax purposes and legal guarantees for remitting profits and capital.

Chile has other special incentive programs aimed mostly at promoting investment and employment in remote regions (Arica and Parinacota, Tarapaca, Aysen, Magallanes, Chiloe and Palena provinces of the Los Lagos region), as well as other areas that suffer of productive development lags. These tax incentives and subsidies are open for local and foreign firms and benefit either a percentage of the investment on fixed assets or the labor cost for hiring workers. Other incentives for investment are oriented to the development of new businesses, support for micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises, and promotion of technological innovation.

In January 2011, the Ministry of Economy, through CORFO, established the StartUp Chile program, where selected entrepreneurs are given a USD 40,000 grant and a Chilean work visa to develop a “start-up” business in Chile. Upon admittance into the program, an entrepreneur is given six months to develop a project and then promote it through a series of pitches and seminars at local universities, corporate meetings and other community outreach. StartUp Chile helped 1,309 startups to date (200-250 per year) and turned into a reference for other countries and the leading accelerator in Latin America.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Chile has two free trade zones: one in the northern port city of Iquique (Tarapaca Region) and the other in the far south port city of Punta Arenas (Magallanes Region). Merchants and manufacturers in these zones are exempt from corporate income tax, value added taxes (VAT) –in the product’s first sale-, and customs duties. The same exemptions also apply to manufacturers in the Chacalluta and Las Americas Industrial Park in Arica (Arica and Parinacota Region). Mining, fishing and financial services are not eligible for free zone concessions. Foreign-owned firms have the same investment opportunities in these zones as Chilean firms. The process for setting up a subsidiary is the same inside as outside the zones, regardless of whether the company is domestic or foreign-owned. Zofri is the main FTZ located in Iquique.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

Neither Chile’s Foreign Investment Promotion Agency nor the Central Bank applies performance requirements in its review of proposed investment projects. The investment chapter in the U.S.–Chile FTA establishes rules prohibiting performance requirements that apply to all investments, whether by a third party or domestic investors. The FTA investment chapter also regulates the use of mandatory performance requirements as a condition for receiving incentives and spells out certain exceptions. These include government procurement, qualifications for export and foreign aid programs, and non-discriminatory health, safety, and environmental requirements.

Chile’s Congress is currently considering legislation on data privacy, including provisions that could impose data localizations requirements.

Real Property

Secured interests in real property are recognized and generally enforced in Chile. Chile ranked 58 out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s 2017 Doing Business report for property registration. There is a recognized and generally reliable system for recording mortgages and other forms of liens. There are no time limits for the property rights acquired by foreigners to remain in force, nor there restrictions on foreign ownership of buildings and land. The only exception, based on national security grounds, is for land located in border territories, which may not be owned by nationals of border countries, or by juridical persons which have their head office in such country or are owned 20 percent by nationals of such country, or controlled by them, without prior authorization of the President of Chile.

In the specific index for quality of land administration (which includes reliability of infrastructure, transparency of information, geographic coverage and land dispute resolution), Chile obtains a score of 14 out of 30. There are no restrictions to foreign and/or non-resident investors regarding land lease or acquisition. Unoccupied properties can always be claimed by their legal owners and, as usurpation is criminalized, several kinds of eviction procedures are allowed by the law.

Intellectual Property Rights

With some exceptions, Chile has a relatively strong intellectual property regime, as a result of successive amendments to its legal structure. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Country Profile study, Chile has modified its IP law several times during the past two decades, strengthening IP protection significantly by adapting the national legislation to the standards set forth in the TRIPS Agreement and several of its Free Trade Agreements. The last amendment to Chile’s IP Law entered into force in February, 2012, and incorporated certain provisions agreed by Chile through the signature of the Trademark Law Treaty (TLT) and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s International IP Index, Chile’s legal framework provides for fair and transparent use of compulsory licensing; extends necessary exclusive rights to copyright holders and voluntary notification system; and provides for civil and procedural remedies. However, pharmaceutical and agrochemical products suffer from relatively weak patenting procedures, the absence of an effective patent enforcement and resolution mechanism, and some gaps in regulation governing data protection. The framework to promote action against online piracy, as well as trade secret protection, has been deemed insufficient by private stakeholders. Furthermore, despite obligations in the U.S.-Chile FTA dating back over 14 years, Chile still has not passed legislation to outlaw the theft of encrypted program-carrying satellite signals, which is a serious problem in the country.

Chile’s IPR enforcement remains, according to the report mentioned above, relatively lax, particularly in relation to piracy, copyright and patent protection, while prosecution of IP infringement is hindered by gaps in the legal framework and a lack of expertise in IP law among judges. Rights holders indicate a need for greater resources devoted to customs operations and a better-defined procedure for dealing with small packages containing infringing goods. The legal basis for detaining and seizing suspected transshipments is also insufficiently clear.

A pending draft bill submitted to Congress in April 2013 would replace Chile’s Industrial Property Law. Its aim is to reduce time and financial costs of registering new IP rights and simplify procedures. According to the National Institute of Industrial Property (INAPI) the new IP law would reduce timeframes for patent-related procedures, eliminates unnecessary formalities and promotes online procedures. The bill has received numerous modifications in the Senate and is awaiting further passage, but no urgency has been assigned to it by the Executive Branch.

The latest estimated figure for seizures of counterfeit goods in Chile, according from reports made by the National Customs Service, the Investigations Police and the National Prosecutor´s Office indicates that 946,709 pirated items were seized during 2016, equivalent to USD 21.6 million.

Chile has been included on the Special 301 Priority Watch List (PWL) since January 8, 2007, and remains on the 2017 Priority Watch List. The main challenges are related to longstanding IPR issues under the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement: the implementation of measures against circumvention of technological protection measures and protections for encrypted program-carrying satellite signals; remedies for rights holders and satellite and cable service providers, including measures related to decoder boxes; pending implementation of UPOV 91; the implementation of an effective system for addressing patent issues expeditiously in connection with applications to market pharmaceutical products; adequate protection for undisclosed data generated to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceutical products; and amendments to Chile’s Internet Service Provider liability regime to permit effective action against Internet piracy. Chile is not listed in the USTR’s Notorious Markets List, neither as home to a physical market for counterfeit and pirated products, nor as a base for online sites that facilitate IPR infringement.

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Chile’s authorities committed to developing capital markets and keeping them open to foreign portfolio investors. The Santiago Stock Exchange is Chile’s dominant stock exchange, and the third largest in Latin America, after Sao Paulo and Mexico bourses. However, when compared to other OECD countries it does not rank high in terms of market liquidity.

Under the U.S.-Chile FTA, U.S. insurance firms have full rights to establish subsidiaries or joint ventures for all insurance sectors, with limited exceptions. Chile agreed to phase in insurance branching rights and to modify Chile’s legislation to open cross-border supply of key insurance sectors such as marine, aviation, and transport insurance, and insurance brokerage of reinsurance. U.S. banks and securities firms are allowed to establish branches and subsidiaries and may invest in local firms without restriction, except under very limited circumstances. U.S. financial institutions are also able to offer financial services to citizens participating in Chile’s privatized voluntary saving plans, and they have gained increased market access to Chile’s mandatory social security system. U.S.-based firms are allowed to offer services in Chile in areas such as financial information, data processing, and financial advisory services, with limited exceptions. Chilean mutual funds are permitted to use foreign-based portfolio managers.

Credit is allocated on market terms and is available to foreigners, although the Central Bank does reserve the right to restrict foreign investors’ access to internal credit if a credit shortage exists. To date, this authority has not been exercised.

Money and Banking System

Nearly one third of Chileans have a credit card from a bank, but a lower proportion (15 percen) has a checking account. However, financial inclusion is higher than banking penetration: a large number of lower-income Chilean residents at least have a CuentaRut, which is a commission-free card with an electronic account available for all, launched by the state-owned Banco Estado, also the largest provider of microcredit in Chile.

The Chilean banking system is sound, competitive, and many Chilean banks already meet Basel III standards. Solvency remained solid over time as measured by the capital adequacy ratio (13.76 percent as of September 2016). The non-performing loan ratio is at just two percent. There are currently 23 banks operating in Chile, and five are foreign-owned representational branches. Only one bank is completely owned by Chilean private shareholders (BCI). The rest has some level of foreign participation. There are also seven local savings and loan corporations, and one state-owned bank, Banco Estado, which is the nation’s third largest. Chile’s Central Bank conducts the country’s monetary policy, is constitutionally autonomous from the government and is not subject to regulation by the Superintendence of Banks. Private banks manage most corporate business. The Chilean banking system’s total assets, as of September 2016, amounted to USD 313.3 billion, according to the Superintendence of Banks and Financial Institutions.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

Law N° 20.848 that regulates FDI (described in section 1) prohibits arbitrary discrimination to foreign investors and guarantees access to the formal foreign exchange market, as well as the free remittance of capital and profits generated by investments. There are no other restrictions or limitations placed on foreign investors for the conversion, transfer or remittance of funds associated with an investment. Chile’s capital markets are well developed and open to both foreign portfolio investment and FDI. Currently, Chile does not apply withholding period requirements for foreign capital entering the country, which can be repatriated immediately without penalty, nor it applies capital controls on short-term inflows. However, the Central Bank reserves the right to re-impose, if needed in the future, a mechanism known as “encaje,” used in the 1990s, which required foreign investors to deposit 30 percent of foreign-sourced loans and portfolio investment with the Central Bank in a non-interest-bearing account for up two years.

Investors, importers, and others are guaranteed access to foreign exchange in the official inter-bank currency market without restriction. The Central Bank reserves the right to deny access to the inter-bank currency market for royalty payments in excess of five percent of sales. The same restriction applies to payments for the use of patents that exceed five percent of sales. In such cases, firms would have access to the informal market. The Chilean tax service reserves the right to prevent royalties of over five percent of sales from being counted as expenses for domestic tax purposes.

Chile has a free floating (flexible) exchange rate system. Exchange rates of foreign currencies are fully determined by the market. The Central Bank reserves the right to intervene under exceptional circumstances to correct significant deviations of the currency from its fundamentals, so the Chilean system is also known as “dirty float.” In practice, however, this right to intervene is used sparingly (if at all).

Remittance Policies

Remittances of profits generated by investments can be made any time after tax obligations are fulfilled; remittances of the capital can be made after one year since the date of entry into the country. In practice, this one-year permanency requirement for capital has not constituted a restriction for productive investment, because normally projects need more than one year to mature. Under the Investment Chapter of the U.S.–Chile FTA, the parties must allow transfers of covered investments to be made freely and without delay into and out of its territory. These include transfers of profits, royalties, sales proceeds, and other remittances related to the investment. However, for certain types of short-term capital flows, this chapter allows Chile to impose transfer restrictions for up to 12 months as long as those restrictions do not substantially impede transfers. If restrictions are found to impede transfers substantially, damages accrue from the date of the initiation of the measure. In practice, these restrictions are not applied.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Chile has two sovereign wealth funds built from annual contributions made by the government when there is an effective fiscal surplus. The Economic and Social Stabilization Fund (FEES) was established in 2007 and was valued at USD 14 billion as of January 2017. The FEES seeks to fund public debt payments and temporary deficit spending, in order to keep a countercyclical fiscal policy. The Pensions Reserve Fund (FRP) was established in 2006 and was valued at USD 9 billion as of January 2017. The purpose of the FRP is to anticipate future needs of payments from the Government to those eligible to receive pensions but whose contributions to the private pension system fall behind a minimum guaranteed by the State. Chile is a member of the International Working Group of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IWG) and adheres to the Santiago Principles. Chile’s government policy is to invest SWFs totally abroad, into instruments denominated in different foreign currencies. As of January 2017, FEES’ portfolio consisted in 88.1 percent of sovereign bonds and monetary market instruments, 3.5 percent of inflation-indexed sovereign bonds and 8.4 percent of stocks. At the same date, FRP’s portfolio consisted in 46.2 percent of sovereign bonds and related instruments, 17.2 percent of inflation-indexed bonds, 20.1 percent of corporate bonds and 16.5 percent of stocks.

Chile has 34 state-owned enterprises (SOEs). All of them are commercial companies. The most relevant of them are the national copper company (CODELCO); the national hydrocarbons company (ENAP); the National Postal System (Correos de Chile); the public TV station (TVN); and the state-owned bank (Banco Estado). Thirty-one of 34 Chilean SOEs are not listed in the stock exchange and fully owned by the government. The remaining three are majority government owned. Ten Chilean SOEs operate in the port management sector; eight in the services sector, three in the defense sector, three in media, two in the water sector, two in transportation, four in the mining sector and two in R&D and services for the mining sector. The state also holds a minority stake in four water companies as a result of a privatization process. Total assets of SOEs, excluding Banco Estado, amounted to USD 43.8 billion in 2015. Total assets of SOEs, including Banco Estado, amounted to USD 60.9 billion in 2015. SOEs employed 50,691 people in 2015.

Most SOEs in Chile fall under the supervision of the Public Enterprises System (SEP, see http://www.sepchile.cl/ ), which is the main ownership entity of the government responsible for overseeing SOE governance, as well as exercising minority rights in four water companies. Still, SEP exercises this role for only 22 of the country’s 34 SOEs. Two of Chile’s most important SOEs fall outside of SEP jurisdiction—Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, and ENAP, an oil exploration company. The 11 exceptions have their own supervisory structures but are still responsible to a separate government agency: Codelco, ENAP and ENAMI to the Ministry of Energy and Mining, TVN to the Ministry of the Secretary-General of Government, CORFO and Banco del Estado to the Ministry of Treasury, and the three defense SOEs to the Ministry of Defense. All 34 SOEs are accountable to Congress, the President and the General Comptroller Office. Allocation of seats on the boards of Chilean SOEs is determined by the SEP, as described above, or outlined by the laws that regulate them. In CODELCO’s corporate governance, there is a mix between seats appointed by recommendation from an independent high-level civil service committee, and seats allocated by political authorities in the government.

A list of SOEs, with access to its financial management information, is published online by the Budget Directorate in the following link. http://www.dipres.gob.cl/596/w3-channel.html 

In general, private enterprise is allowed to compete with public enterprise under the same terms and conditions (e.g., there are many private copper mines and private banks). However, there are specific areas where this does not hold and SOEs enjoy special advantages. For example, ENAP is the only company allowed to refine oil in Chile. SOEs are subject to the same taxes and the same value added tax rebate policies as their private sector competitors. They are not afforded material advantages and are subject to hard budget constraints. As an OECD member, Chile adheres to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs.

Privatization Program

There are no ongoing privatization programs currently in Chile.

Awareness of the need to ensure corporate social responsibility grew over the last two decades in Chile. However, NGOs and academics who monitor this issue believe that its importance is still not sufficiently incorporated into business practices, in particular their risk mapping and management.

The government of Chile encourages foreign and local enterprises to follow generally accepted Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) principles and recognizes the diversity of definitions for RBC, indicating the United Nations’ Rio+20 Conference statements as its principal reference. Chile adhered in 1997 to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and recognized four other “soft law” instruments related to RBC: the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy; the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles; and the ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility. The government established a National Contact Point for OECD MNE guidelines, who is currently the head of the OECD Department at the General Directorate for International Economic Relations.

Chile is in the process of developing a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights based on the Guiding Principles. During 2016, the government hired Universidad Diego Portales to conduct a baseline study, which was the first independent assessment conducted in the Americas on the subject (available here: http://www.derechoshumanos.udp.cl/derechoshumanos/index.php/quienes-somos?layout=edit&id=157 ) and opened a participative dialogue process to serve as an input for the National Action Plan. Separately, the Council on Social Responsibility for Sustainable Development, coordinated by Chile’s Ministry of Economy, developed an action plan for 2015-2018 with 17 measures to help bolster RBC, and is currently developing a National Policy on Social Responsibility.

Regarding procurement decisions, in 2014, the Ministry of Environment published a Handbook for Sustainable Public Procurement. ChileCompra, the agency in charge of centralizing Chile’s public procurement, which amounts to 3.5 percent of GDP, incorporates as part of its criteria for assignment of public purchases, the existence of a Clean Production Certificate and an ISO 14001-2004 certificate on environmental management, among others. No high-profile, controversial instances of corporate impact on human rights have occurred in Chile in recent years.

The Chilean government enforces domestic labor, employment, consumer and environmental protection laws. There are no dispute settlement cases against Chile related to the Labor and Environment Chapters of the Free Trade Agreements signed by Chile.

The Superintendence of Securities and Insurance (SVS), a government independent agency, is the Chilean competent authority in this matter, with a regulatory, surveillance, sanctioning and market development role. The SVS has the responsibility of regulating and supervising all listed companies. Under Chilean law, companies are generally required to have an audit committee, a directors committee, an anti-money laundering committee and an anti-terrorism finance committee. The laws do not require companies to have a nominating/corporate governance committee or a compensation committee. Compensation programs are typically established by the board of directors and/or the Directors Committee.

Independent NGOs in Chile promote and freely monitor RBC. Examples include NGO Accion RSE: http://www.accionrse.cl/ , and the Catholic University of Valparaiso’s Center for Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development VINCULAR: http://www.vincular.cl/  , ProHumana Foundation and the Andrés Bello University’s Center Vitrina Ambiental.

Chile is an OECD member, but is not participating actively in the implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas. Chile is not part of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

The extent of corruption in Chile is relatively limited: Chile ranked 24th out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Chile implemented, in a non-discriminatory manner, various laws to combat corruption of public officials, including a 2003 law establishing a professional civil service, a 2005 law to regulate political party and candidate financing, and the 2009 Transparency Law, regarding disclosure of public information related to all areas of government, which also created an autonomous Transparency Council in charge of overseeing its application. In reaction to a series of corruption scandals related to tax fraud, influence peddling, and campaign financing during 2015, which involved major private firms and politicians, a presidential committee against corruption and conflicts of interest was created and released a report recommending 236 measures. A new NGO -the Anticorruption Observatory- monitors the implementation of these measures: http://observatorioanticorrupcion.cl/ 

The presidential committee’s recommendations were translated into new laws and regulations. These include expanding the scope of the civil service system to senior positions in the public sector that were previously politically appointed and limiting other forms of political influence; establishing mandatory asset disclosure requirements for a wide range of government authorities, including municipal governments, and other high-level public officials; and establishing rules for mandatory blind trust management, a catalog of incompatibilities between public positions, and a code on best practices for lobby firms. On transparency, Chile joined the Executive Committee of the Open Government Alliance. Anti-corruption laws do extend to family members of officials, in particular mandatory asset disclosure, and a draft bill incorporating restrictions on appointments and incompatibilities for family members of public officials has been submitted to Congress. A new law regulating political parties in Chile was enacted in November 2016, which established public funding for them, limits campaign financing, and requires transparency in party governance and contributions to parties and campaigns. Regarding government procurement, a system established in 2015 in the website of Chilecompra (central public procurement agency) available for vendors, buyers and the general public, allows for anonymously reporting irregularities in government procurement. Also, a new decree defined sanctions to public officials who do not adequately justify direct contracts.

The Corporate Criminal Liability Law provides that corporate entities can have their compliance programs certified. Chile’s Securities and Insurance Superintendence (SVS) authorizes a group of local firms to review companies’ compliance programs and certify them as sufficient. Certifying firms are listed on the SVS website. Private companies have increasingly incorporated internal control measures, as well as ethics committees as part of their corporate governance, and compliance management sections. Additionally, Chile Transparente (Chilean branch of Transparency International) developed a Corruption Prevention System to provide assistance to private firms to facilitate their compliance with the Corporate Criminal Liability Law.

Chile signed and ratified the Organization of American States (OAS) Convention against Corruption. The country also ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention on September 13, 2006. Chile is also an active member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and, as an OECD member, adopted the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. NGO’s that investigate corruption operate in a free and adequately protected manner. U.S. firms have not identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency responsible for combating corruption:

Raúl Ferrada
Director General
Consejo para la Transparencia
Morande 360 piso 7

Contact at “watchdog” organization:

Alberto Precht
Executive Director
Chile Transparente (Chile branch of Transparency International)
Perez Valenzuela 1687, piso 1, Providencia, Santiago de Chile
(+56)-(2)-2236 4507

Pablo Collada
Executive Director
Ciudadano Inteligente (Founder NGO of the Anticorruption Observatory)
Holanda 895, Providencia, Santiago, Chile

Since its return to democracy in 1990, the incidence of political violence and civil disturbance in Chile is generally low, and it has little impact on the Chilean economy. Crime rates are moderate throughout the country, in particular when compared to the rest of Latin America, and the vast majority of crimes are nonviolent. During the last 10 years, there were relatively few incidents of politically motivated attacks on investment projects or installations outside of the Araucania region. Between 2011 and 2013, there were occasional incidents of vandalism of storefronts and public transport during student protests, some of which included violent incidents. Incidents of anti-American sentiment and civil disorder are rare, and there have been no attacks known to be attributable to international terrorist organizations. Since 2007, Chile has experienced a number of small-scale bombings targeting mostly banks and police stations, usually at night. Some explosive and incendiary devices have been placed in public spaces throughout Santiago, including ATM’s, metro stations, universities and churches. Anarchist groups often claim responsibility for these acts. In 2014, a bomb placed at a busy metro station left 14 people injured. The 2014 bombings of two metro stations led to criminal prosecution of three young people, who are currently incarcerated pending trial.

On occasions, illegal activity by striking workers resulted in damage to corporate property or a disruption of operations. Some firms have publically expressed concern that during a contentious strike, law enforcement has appeared to be reluctant to protect private property.

Over the last 20 years, there were a growing trend of violence related to land claims and other grievances of indigenous communities in southern Chile who belong to the Mapuche people, located in the Araucania region and one province in the southwest of Bio-Bio region. These incidents included arson attacks on churches, farms, facilities at forestry plantations and forestry contractors’ machinery and vehicles, resulting in over half-dozen deaths (including some attributed to police forces), injuries and damage to property.

Violence in southern Chile is so far concentrated geographically and limited to roads and rural areas outside of larger towns and cities.

Civil disturbance is not present at levels that could put investments at risk or destabilize the government. There is an active civil society and demonstrations occur frequently. Although the vast majority of demonstrations are peaceful, on occasion, protestors have veered off of pre-approved routes. In a few instances criminal elements have taken advantage of civil society protests to loot stores along the protest route and have clashed with the police. Demonstrations on March 29, the Day of the Young Combatant, and September 11, the anniversary of the 1973 coup against the government of President Salvador Allende, have in the past resulted in damage to property.

Unemployment in Chile averaged 6.5 percent during 2016. The labor participation rate was 60 percent as of December 2015. Immigrants account for nearly four percent of the labor force. Chilean workers are adequately skilled and some sectors such as mining, agriculture and fishing employ highly skilled workers. In general, there is an adequate availability of technicians and professionals. Data on informality is not available for Chile in the ILO databases, but different estimations made by academics situate informal employment in Chile, depending on the specific data and methodology utilized, between 10 percent and 20 percent of the non-agricultural workforce.

Article 19 of the Labor Code stipulates that at least 85 percent of the staff hired by one and the same employer must be Chilean, except in the case of firms with less than 25 employees. However, Article 20 of the Labor Code includes several provisions under which foreign employees can exceed 25 percent, independently of the size of the company. The percentage of foreign employees is calculated as a fraction of an employer’s total staff throughout Chile, rather than in each branch separately. Technical staff who cannot be replaced locally are not included when calculating the percentage of foreign employees. In addition, a foreigner whose spouse or children are Chilean, or who is the widower or widow of a Chilean, is counted as Chilean.

A voluntary mechanism created by the Labor Inspection Service and the Executive Vice-Presidency of the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (APIE) allows foreign investors to certify the need to hire a larger number of foreign employees. This can be done by entering a national register and presenting a letter explaining the company’s situation as regards the hiring of foreign employees. This letter should be accompanied by a sworn statement containing detailed information, as indicated in the following link: http://www.ciechile.gob.cl/en/faq/ 

In general, upon dismissal without cause, workers who have been working for at least one year are entitled by Chilean Labor Code to a statutory severance pay equivalent to 30 days of the last monthly remuneration earned, for each year of service worked and fraction greater than six months. The upper limit is 330 days (11 years of service) for workers with a contract in force for one year or more. The same amount is payable to a worker whose contract is terminated on the basis of business requirements (economic reasons). Upon termination of employment, regardless of the reason for termination, domestic workers are entitled to an unemployment insurance benefit funded by the employee and employer contributions to an individual unemployment fund equivalent to three percent of the monthly remuneration. The employer’s contributions shall be paid for a maximum of 11 years by the same employer. Another fund made up of employer and government contributions is used for complementary unemployment payments when needed.

Labor and environmental laws are not waived in order to attract or retain investments.

According to the Labor Directorate, 985,770 workers (17.5 percent of Chilean salaried workers) belonged to a trade union in the last quarter of 2014 (latest data available), when 11,162 unions were active. In the same period, 327,412 workers (5.8 percent of Chile’s salaried workers) were covered by collective bargaining agreements. Collective bargaining coverage rates are higher in the finance/banking sector (11.8 percent of workers), the mining sector (7.4 percent) and utility companies (7.3 percent). In each of these three sectors -which together account for 16.3 percent of Chile’s GDP- active unions cover nearly 20 percent of workers. Multiple unions exist in many companies, and management can negotiate collective agreements with any of the unions or with ad hoc “negotiating groups” of workers. Unions can form nationwide labor associations and can affiliate with international labor federations. Contracts are normally negotiated at the company level. Police, military personnel, and civil servants belonging to the judiciary are prohibited from joining unions, while other public employees are prohibited from striking. The law also prohibits strikes by agricultural workers during the harvest season, and by employees of 101 private companies, mostly public service (water and electricity) providers, and stipulates compulsory arbitration to resolve disputes in these companies. Workers in public institutions are not granted collective bargaining rights but national public workers’ associations undertake annual negotiations with the government. The law does not guarantee collective bargaining rights for temporary workers or those employed solely for specific tasks, such as in agriculture, construction, ports, or the arts and entertainment sector.

The Labor Directorate under the Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing labor laws and regulations. Both employers and workers may request labor mediation from the Labor Directorate, which is an alternate conflict solving model, aimed to facilitate communication between both parties in order for them to peacefully seek agreements.

During 2016, 199 legal strikes took place in sectors where collective bargaining is permitted (a similar number in comparison to 2015), and 35,529 workers were involved in total (43 percent more than in 2015). The spike in the number or workers participating in legal strikes is related to the strike that took place in Sodimac, a retail chain with the largest private sector workers union, which involved 8,700 employees. Apart from retail and commerce, strikes have been concentrated in the manufacturing industry, education and transportation sectors. As legal strikes in Chile have a restricted scope and duration, they have not supposed a risk for foreign investment.

In some sectors where strikes and/or collective bargaining is prohibited by law, in particular the public sector, illegal worker strikes occurred throughout 2016. The four-week strike by the National Association of Fiscal Employees carried out between October and November 2016 was the illegal strike with the greatest impact to the public. This strike caused multiple disruptions to the normal functioning of health and education services, garbage collection, sanitary inspections, customs and other trade-related services. The government condemned the strike publically, in some cases temporarily replaced striking workers with workers from other government agencies, and deducted pay from the salaries of striking workers. Ultimately, Congress passed a four percent salary increase, which was close to the government’s initial proposal and short of the strikers demand for a seven percent increase.

Chile has and generally enforces laws and regulations in accordance to the internationally recognized labor rights of: freedom of association and collective bargaining; the elimination of forced labor; child labor, including the minimum age for work; discrimination in respect to employment and occupation; and acceptable conditions of work related to minimum wage, occupational safety and health, and hours of work. The maximum number of labor hours allowed per week in Chile is 45. The national minimum wage is CLP 264,000 –USD 353- a month for all occupations, including domestic servants, more than twice the official poverty line. There are no gaps in compliance with international labor standards that may pose a reputational risk to investors. See more at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper

The government passed a Labor Reform bill in April 2016, aimed to extend the scope of collective bargaining to more employees, and strengthen the negotiating position of unions. However, after a challenge by a group of opposition legislators before the Constitutional Court, some of its original provisions were invalidated. The law went into effect on April 1, 2017. In its final shape, the reform’s main aspects include:

  1. the collective bargaining process can be between one or more employers with one or more unions;
  2. the ability to bargain collectively is extended to some types of employees currently excluded, such as apprentices and workers under temporary project-based contracts;
  3. no replacement of workers will be allowed during strikes; not even reassigning roles within the non-striking personnel; but with some “necessary adaptations” that will be allowed for the company to preserve the right to work of workers not joining the strike and to ensure delivery of “essential services” (the disruptions of which could cause damage to infrastructure, the environment, or health);
  4. trade unions will have new rights to receive certain specified financial information on a periodical basis and during the bargaining process.

Since 2013, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) partnered with U.S. solar energy developers to finance five large-scale power facilities throughout the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. Other OPIC-financed projects in the country include the run-of-river hydropower project Alto Maipo, and the toll road Vespucio Norte Express. An OPIC Bilateral Investment Agreement between Chile and the United States took effect in 1984. Chile is a party to the convention of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (USD billion) 2016 247.1 2015 240.8 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or international Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2015 31,346 2015 27,331 BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2015 11,452 2015 4,110 OECD FDI statistics database available athttp://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?QueryId=64220 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2015 8.4 2015 8.5 World Bank: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/

* Source: Central Bank of Chile.
Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

According to the IMF’s Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS), total stock of FDI in Chile in 2015 amounted to USD 213 billion, compared to USD 209 billion in 2014. U.S. FDI stock position in Chile in 2015 amounted to USD 24 billion. Spain, the Netherlands, the United States and Canada accounted for 40% of Chile’s inward FDI stock. Chile’s outward direct investment stock in 2015 was concentrated in South America, where Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Peru together represent 35% of total Chilean outward direct investment position. However, Bermuda, a tax haven, arose in 2015 as the second largest destination of Chilean FDI.

Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 208,931 100% Total Outward 92,597 100%
Spain 26,581 12% Brazil 13,446 15%
Netherlands 24,099 11% Bermuda 9,303 10%
United States 24,004 11% Colombia 6,558 7%
Canada 13,374 6% Argentina 6,506 7%
United Kingdom 8,021 4% Peru 5,109 6%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets
Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)
Total Equity Securities Total Debt Securities
All Countries 142,865 100% All Countries 98,216 100% All Countries 44,649 100%
United States 61,928 43% United States 38,972 40% United States 22,956 51%
Luxembourg 36,592 26% Luxembourg 36,483 37% Japan 4,577 10%
Ireland 5,684 4% Ireland 5,633 6% Mexico 3,509 8%
Germany 5,116 4% Germany 2,827 3% Germany 2,290 5%
Japan 4,784 3% United Kingdom 2,503 3% United Kingdom 1,911 4%

Alexis Gutiérrez
Economic Specialist
U.S. Embassy Santiago, Avenida Andrés Bello 2800, Las Condes

2017 Investment Climate Statements: Chile
Build a Custom Report

01 / Select a Year

02 / Select Sections

03 / Select Countries You can add more than one country or area.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future