During the nineties, the democratic government that succeeded the dictatorship of A. Pinochet adopted severe austerity measures, aimed above all at discouraging imports and favoring the rebalancing of the trade balance, and also attempted an overall revival of the Chilean economy in serious crisis. The first positive results were recorded as early as 1993, with an inflation rate fell to 12, 7 % from 26 % in 1990: this percentage is then further reduced in subsequent years, up to the 6, 1 % in 1997, which represents the lowest level of the last 37years. The unemployment rate has also progressively decreased, but youth unemployment (15 %) remains a serious problem. It also decreased the population in extreme poverty (from ‘ 8 % in 1994 to 6, 5 % in 1996), while in the same period, the population below the poverty line increased from 28, 5 % to 25 % (against 40 % in 1990). Overall, during the 1990s, GDP recorded an average increase of 8.3% per year, while the demographic growth, in the same period, remained around 16%. For Chile economics and business, please check businesscarriers.com.
The extraction and mining exports continue to be the mainstay of the Chilean economy, traditionally linked to great international interest, and especially those in the United States: in particular, with more than 2, 5 million tonnes extracted in 1995, the Chile is at the top of the world ranking of copper producers; also nitrates, present in the arid northern region, feed a large processing industry, while iron and coal, although abundant, have lost their importance due to the crisis in the world steel industry and the consequent drop in demand.
Another important activity is fishing (7, 6 million tonnes of fish landed in 1995), in waters of the Pacific off the Chilean coast long, but in recent years the recurrence of the phenomenon known as El Niño, which brings current irregular and warm seas, upsetting the balance between cold waters and warm waters rich in plankton, made the annual quantities of catches less regular. Despite this, Chile, together with the contiguous Peru, along the Pacific coast, and China, located opposite the same ocean, contributed in 1994 to the 37% of world catch, an impressive share especially when compared with the impoverishment of other marine areas due to excessive exploitation (Atlantic and other dependent seas).
The fruit and horticulture of the temperate and irrigated central regions boast a wide range of products, out of season for the export markets of Anglo-Saxon America or Central-Western Europe, given the seasonal reversal of the southern hemisphere; the development of air traffic also allows the shipment of the finest products, and the sector is in strong expansion (in 1995 it contributed to the formation of 8.6 % of total export earnings).
The increase in population, the greater demand of foreign markets and the same loss of agricultural land on the outskirts of the growing cities have led to the need to expand irrigation at the expense of pastures; the extension of cereal growing has also grown in the South, where oats, barley and rye prevail. Instead viticulture, traditional in the central area with a Mediterranean climate, is stationary or in decline, also due to competition from Argentina and the expansion of other American producers.
The forestry heritage remains discreet and, while maintaining approximately the same extension in recent years, has undergone a profound qualitative change. In fact, the exploitation no longer and only of the southern beeches and conifers of the western Andean slopes has become widespread, but that of extensive plantations of Monterey pines and eucalyptus trees, created with the aim of favoring the production and export of timber. ; as government grants cover 75 to 90% of the cost of planting new trees, owners tend to cut down the original forests and replace them with new logging forests. The big owners have extended this activity widely, buying new land from small owners, who emigrate to the cities where they often swell the ranks of the unemployed. The replacement of local tall trees reduces biodiversity, the emigration of rural residents weakens the social structure, while unconditional forest exploitation poses problems of environmental imbalance.
Manufacturing activities are affected by a phase of market weakening, but there are signs of recovery; the most developed sectors are the petrochemical, textile, footwear, shipbuilding, mechanical sectors, as well as the traditional food sector.
The tourist movement is on the rise and destined to grow further, if political conditions remain stable. The remarkable natural beauties, as well as some interesting historical centers, are gradually inserted in the tourist circuits: for example, the desert area of the Atacama, in the North, or the salares, salt lakes or large salt basins between the Cordillera della Costa and the first Andean offshoots are unusual destinations for environmental tourism; likewise the magnificent mountain resorts of the Andean valleys, wooded and rich in fish-rich rivers, and the fjords of the South as far as Tierra del Fuego. International tourism also touches the remote Easter Island.
As far as foreign trade is concerned, a notable step forward was made by Chile with the association (1996) in the Mercado Común del Sur (MERCOSUR), whose effective members are Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
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