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Santiago Metropolitan Region Houses Significant Set of Economic Assets, but Challenges Remain

New Brookings and CEP global profile provides framework for region and leaders to better understand its competitive position in the global economy

April 13, 2016 (Santiago, Chile) – A new report from the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase, and the Centro de Estudios Públicos (CEP) benchmarks the Santiago Metropolitan Region’s competitiveness against eight other regions globally that resemble its size, wealth, productivity, and industrial structure (Hangzhou, Nanjing, Johannesburg, Warsaw, Istanbul, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and Ankara).

The research, released at an event hosted by CEP on April 13, highlights that the Santiago Metropolitan Region accounts for nearly half of Chile’s gross domestic product (GDP) and that the production of goods and services in the region have consistently expanded over the past 15 years. Average standards of living and labor productivity are significantly higher now than in 2000, and have outpaced most of Santiago’s peers. In a composite economic performance index, Santiago placed third among the nine regions.

“Substantial economic progress has occurred since 2000. Santiago boasts an increasingly well-educated workforce, major universities, and a stable of large global companies and budding start-ups. These strengths position it to lead Chile toward a more productive, technology-intensive economy that competes in global markets based on knowledge rather than raw materials.”

Joseph Parilla, senior research associate, Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of the report

Challenges remain however, including low job creation, slowing productivity growth in recent years, and continued high levels of income inequality. Shifts in the global economy—declining commodity prices, China’s slowing demand for Chilean exports, and the broader slowdown among its Latin American neighbors—have the potential to exacerbate these challenges.

Key findings from the report include:

“Boosting innovation will be critical to sustaining Santiago’s next wave of economic growth. The region houses world class research universities and a relatively vibrant start-up scene. But public and private leaders could do more to strengthen the collaboration of universities and firms, especially in those industries where Santiago has a comparative advantage.”

Jesus Leal Trujillo, senior research assistant, Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and lead author of the report

In addition to improving the competitiveness of firms through investments in education and innovation capacity, the region must enable growth through greater coordination of regional infrastructure planning. This process could be better facilitated by bestowing greater power and responsibility to the Santiago Metropolitan Region government.

“Boosting innovation will be critical to sustaining Santiago’s next wave of economic growth. The region houses world class research universities and a relatively vibrant start-up scene. But public and private leaders could do more to strengthen the collaboration of universities and firms, especially in those industries where Santiago has a comparative advantage.”

Jesus Leal Trujillo, senior research assistant, Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and lead author of the report

    In addition to improving the competitiveness of firms through investments in education and innovation capacity, the region must enable growth through greater coordination of regional infrastructure planning. This process could be better facilitated by bestowing greater power and responsibility to the Santiago Metropolitan Region government.

  • Substantial economic progress has occurred since 2000, but macroeconomic shifts present new challenges to growth.
  • The Santiago Metropolitan Region can leverage its specialization in business services to boost exports and foreign direct investment.
  • Anchored by leading research universities and a budding venture capital scene, Santiago’s innovation ecosystem could benefit from greater cooperation between universities and firms.
  • The education level and skills of the region’s workforce have increased substantially, but the education system must improve its quality, particularly at the primary and secondary level, while increasing access to the university level for lower-income students.
  • Santiago is the clear international access point for Chile, but it must continue to upgrade its digital, housing, and transportation infrastructure.
  • Firms benefit from a sound business and regulatory environment, but sub-national governments could have greater autonomy to steward Santiago’s economic future.

The April 13, 2016 event, hosted by CEP and the Global Cities Initiative, will convene distinguished regional and national leaders from the business, civic, and government sectors to discuss the evolving role of cities in the global economy, with implications for national public policy and local action. Key speakers include Claudio Orrego, Intendente, Santiago Metropolitan Region; Paulina Saball, Minister of Housing and Urban Planning; Harald Beyer, Director, CEP; and Alfonso Eyzaguirre, Chile’s Senior Country Officer, JPMorgan Chase. The event will also feature a panel discussion called “Growth through Innovation: Investing in Santiago’s Economic Future,” featuring José Miguel Benavente, Inter-American Development Bank; Alejandra Mustakis, Asociacion de Emprendedores de Chile; Gonzalo Rivas, Consejo Nacional de Innovación; and Sebastián Valin, Compara Online.


The Brookings Institution is a private non-profit organization. Its mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations for policymakers and the public. Support for the Global Cities Initiative was generously provided by JPMorgan Chase. Brookings recognizes that the value it provides is in its absolute commitment to quality, independence and impact, and makes all final determinations of the scholarly activities in the Global Cities Initiative, including the research agenda and products.

The Global Cities Initiative is a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase designed to help metropolitan leaders advance and grow their regional economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness. GCI activities include producing data and research to guide decisions, fostering practice and policy innovations, and facilitating a peer-learning network for dissemination and replication. .