SANTIAGO – In the first three months of 2019, economic growth was slower than expected. According to the Central Bank, this had to do with low production in the mining sector. Finance Minister Felipe Larraín remained positive: “I sleep like a baby.”
In the first quarter of 2019, the Chile’s GDP grew 1.6%, the Central Bank reported on Monday. Government analysts had predicted higher growth – and keep insisting economic growth in 2019 will be 3.5%. However, the growth noted in this first quarter is the lowest since the second quarter of 2017.
According to the Central Bank, the mining sector saw its production fall 3.6%, which was the key factor behind the slump. Foreign investments increased 2.9%, but in earlier quarters those numbers were higher.
One day after the Central Bank published its report, the OECD said in its first Economic Outlook of 2019 that it believes the Chilean economy will remain “solid” this year. The OECD’s estimates also top 3%, due to a rise in copper prices.
Finance Minister Larraín: “The Trade War Is A Danger”
Confronted with the figures, Finance Minister Félipe Larraín lowered his expectations for 2019. In November, he indicated growth of 3.7% in 2019, but now expects 3.2%.
“The trade war is the main danger in the world economy and Chile is not immune,” Larraín said. He added that the extensive flooding in the north earlier this year had a heavy impact on the mining sector.
The minister added that Chileans shouldn’t worry. “We are not satisfied with this growth, but we are convinced that the economy will recover, especially during the second half of this year. I sleep like a baby.”
President Piñera “The Opposition Does Not Want Chile To Grow”
In an interview with television channel MEGA, President Piñera pointed at the opposition in Chile when confronted with the growth statistics. “I get the impression that many Chileans don’t want Chile to grow, only to cause harm to the government. Or rather, not many Chileans: many members of the opposition.”
Piñera assured all Chileans that he is working on solutions. “Believe me: every day I get up earlier and go to bed later to bring more and better solutions and improve the quality of life of my compatriots,” he said.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and made appearances on BBC World Services and ABC News during major events in Chile.