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Country Forecast Chile March 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Chile March 2018 Updater

  • March 2018
  • ID: 5355282
  • Format: PDF
  • By The Economist Intelligence Unit

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  • Sebastián Piñera of the centre-right Chile Vamos (CV) coalition will take office on March 11th after winning a run-off in the presidential election in December. As no party holds a majority in Congress, policymaking will be more difficult, requiring cross-coalition support to introduce reforms. The Economist Intelligence Unit expects Mr Piñera to pursue a centrist policy path, focusing on efficiency gains and improvement of the business climate. He will seek to tweak rather than undo the reforms to education, labour and taxes introduced by his predecessor, Michelle Bachelet (2006-10, 2014-17).
  • Following the success of left-wing parties at legislative elections in November 2017, policymaking under the centre-right CV will be pulled towards the centre. The next government will therefore need to address social concerns, particularly regarding access to free education and more equitable pensions. The government will also focus on restoring competitiveness. Ongoing invest-ment in infrastructure and education will lay a foundation for firmer long-term growth.
  • GDP growth will accelerate from 1.5% in 2017 to 3% in 2018, largely driven by stronger private consumption and a return to investment growth following four years of contraction. A business-cycle recession in the US in 2020 will temporarily slow Chile's growth that year, but an acceleration is likely in 2021-22 as external conditions improve.
  • Barring supply-side shocks, inflation will remain within the 2-4% target set by the Banco Central de Chile (the central bank) in 2018-22. The fiscal deficit will also narrow throughout the forecast period. Following loosening in 2017, monetary policy will resume a tightening trend late in early 2019 as economic performance improves. Weaker external conditions in 2020, which will bring a renewed drop in copper prices, will cause the current-account deficit to widen in 2020-22.
  • Market opportunities are constrained by Chile's small population (an estimated 18.3m in 2017), but high income levels (bolstered by real wage gains and low inflation) will support growth in consumer expenditure, even as unemployment rates remain relatively high. Political stability and good economic management will continue to attract high levels of foreign investment.
  • Chile's business environment will remain the highest-ranked regionally. The positive effect of reforms to education, energy and infrastructure will begin to be felt later in the forecast period, although some deficiencies will persist. A drive towards renewable energy generation will yield significant progress.


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