With a population of 17.4 million in 2012, Chile is one of the smaller countries in South America. Around 40% of the population live in and around the capital, Santiago. The country made a successful transition to democracy following the retirement of General Pinochet in 1989. Sebastien Pinera from the centre right party became President in March 2010.
Chile produces very little medical equipment, so the market is largely supplied by imports, and had a US$555.1 million balance of trade deficit in 2011. The USA is the dominant supplier, accounting for 35% of imports, with the European Union supplying 26.7%. Germany accounted for around half of this in 2011. For the 12 months to March 2012, the latest available monthly data, imports equalled US$585.6 million, a 21.7% increase from the previous 12 months.
Whilst the Chilean medical market for medical equipment and supplies, at US$651.4 million in 2012, is small by international standards, at a per capita level, US$37.4 in 2012, it is the highest in South America, aside from Venezuela.
Chile is one of Latin America's better economic performers, although its overall economy is small. GDP per capita is US$14,890 in 2012, the highest in Latin America. GDP Growth for 2012 is also predicted to be highest in the region at 4.5%. Chile has generally avoided regional trading blocs such as Mercosur, preferring bilateral agreements such as its Free Trade Agreement with the USA.
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