2023: Doing Business in Chile

Published on Nov 16, 2023

Our Firm

1. What distinguishes your firm from others in your market?

Urenda, Rencoret, Orrego y Dörr has been at the forefront of the legal industry since 1960. Since then, the Firm has successfully adapted to the many cultural, economic, and legal changes Chile and the world have experienced while remaining a leading firm. This has been the result of unquestionable professional excellence and standards of our lawyers and professionals, their commitment to clients, and to the Firm's ongoing growth. Our partners are renowned lawyers in their areas of practice, and we endeavor to attract and train the finest young and diverse legal talent in the country, projecting our Firm to the future. We thoroughly devote ourselves to each of our professional assignments with a strong sense of teamwork. The size of our Firm allows us to tackle complex and demanding projects while ensuring that our partners are always personally and directly involved throughout the entire tenure of each assignment.

2. What are three words that describe the culture of your firm?

Experienced, reliable, committed.

3. How does your firm participate in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and/or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives?

The Firm has developed different recycling initiatives (including recycling paper, water drums, ink toners, and batteries) and has trained its members on proper recycling methods and waste reduction. A recent environmental initiative included the distribution of biodegradable planters containing lavender seeds (the flowers of which attract and support bee populations) to each member of the Firm. Additionally, we provided our members with coffee grounds to use as compost, encouraging the utilization of organic waste for sustainable gardening practices.

The Firm has a Diversity and Inclusion Policy that sets forth general principles and guidelines in this matter. We believe diversity and inclusion are essential to our team's high-quality professional performance, which in turn, has a positive impact on our clients and the legal community in which we operate.

We are active members of the Pro Bono Foundation, through which we provide legal assistance to people in situations of social vulnerability.

4. Are there any new and exciting initiatives, practice areas or industry focuses in your firm?

We have long-standing experience in mining and energy projects (among others), but lately we have been involved in exciting new initiatives related to venture capital and green hydrogen.

Venture capital: The Firm advises investors, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and emerging companies in connection with investment documents and vehicles, corporate reorganizations, commercial agreements, early and late-stage financings, due diligence processes, tax, corporate governance, and regulatory compliance matters. The area is led by a partner who is especially active in the technology sector, advising investors, entrepreneurs, and start-up companies in the negotiation and drafting of commercial agreements and investment documents, legal structuring of investment vehicles, and late-stage financing.

Green Hydrogen: There is an increasing interest in the development of wind power generation projects and the production of green hydrogen and its by-products. We have been involved in the initial stages of the development of projects of this kind located in the south of Chile.

Doing Business in Indonesia

1. What is the current business climate in your jurisdiction including major political, economic and/or legal activities on the horizon in your country that could have a big impact on businesses?

For a long time, Chile has been an attractive destination for foreign investment despite its relatively small domestic market. The country has a solid legal system, low corruption rate, diversified economy, general respect for private property rights, market-oriented policies, and stable financial rating. However, legislative reforms proposed in response to social demands (including growing demand for greater state provision of social services and diminishment of economic inequality) have generated concerns about the impact such changes may have on investments in different sectors, including mining, energy, healthcare, and pension funds. It is worth mentioning that a new constitution is being drafted by an Expert Commission (Comisión Experta), which will be reviewed and approved (or amended, as applicable) by a group of 50 constitutional councilors (Consejo Constitucional) who are elected by the public. The draft of the new constitution will be put to a vote on December 17, 2023. This initiative is a second effort to reach a new constitution after a radical proposition was rejected by an important majority of the population in September of 2022. Regardless of the result of the vote and the legislative reforms that may be agreed upon and implemented, we believe that the country should maintain its position as an emerging economy in the region and should continue showing indicators of regained stability.

2. From what countries do you see the most inbound investment? What about outbound?

According to the Central Bank of Chile, the most inbound foreign investment during 2021 (in USD Millon) came from: Italy (7,409), Canada (2,832), Belgium (2,798), The Netherlands (2,394), United Kingdom (1,476), and Japan (842). Accumulated inbound investment from 2012 to 2021: Canada (33,210), USA (27,410), The Netherlands (22,688), UK (17,591), Spain (16,986) and Italy (14,005).

Outbound investment: Latin America - Caribbean (81.1%); North America (11.2%); Europe (5%).

3. In what industries/sectors are you seeing the most opportunity for foreign investment?

Global Services and Technology

Energy is an attractive sector for Non-Conventional Renewable Energies (ERNC) projects, including green hydrogen. The last Climatescope-Bloomberg report places Chile as the most attractive country to invest in renewable energies within the Americas.

As for mining, this sector has a competitive edge based on the abundance of natural resources and the development of the mining industry in Chile. Large lithium deposits also offer a good opportunity for foreign investment.

Global Services and Technology is a sector of great attraction since Chile has become a digital hub for the rendering of IT services within Latin America.

4. What advantages and pitfalls should others know about doing business in your country?

The country is one of the most industrialized countries in Latin America. In general, foreign investors may access all activities freely and invest in different industries such as infrastructure, energy, tourism, and particularly in mining, a sector which remains an essential actor in the country's economy (certain restrictions related to national security exist in sectors such as nuclear energy, defense, maritime, transportation, etc.). Chile is the number one copper producer in the world, with approximately 30% of global copper production; also, it has the world's largest lithium reserves, which puts the renewable energy sector in a good position to attract foreign investment.

Chile has one of the lowest corruption rates in the world. It was ranked 27th globally out of 180 countries in the 2022 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, being the second least corrupt country in Latin America. In addition to its open economy, there is an active policy of bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade agreements (Chile has signed agreements with more than 60 countries), which has resulted in an increase in foreign trade in goods and services and has confirmed Chile as an active international partner. The country offers a high standard of living due to factors such as solid infrastructure, access to quality healthcare, economic and political climate, and relatively low crime rates.

As for disadvantages, permitting development projects may take longer than desirable. Also, the cost of living in Chile, especially in major cities, can be higher than in other South American countries.

5. What is one cultural fact or custom about your country that others should know when doing business there?

Due to diversity in geography, climate, and nature, Chileans are used to receiving foreigners and treat them kindly. As per the legal practice, our legal system is fairly legalistic and formal (e.g., notary publics, which are attorneys appointed by the President of the Republic, are required for many legal actions or contracts).

Though we speak Spanish, it may be hard to understand Chileans. We shorten words, usually do not pronounce the "s" at the end, and use lots of nicknames when talking informally.