Chile's Finance Minister Felipe Larrain attends to a meeting at La Moneda Presidential Palace in Santiago, Chile, March 21, 2018.
FILE - Chile's Finance Minister Felipe Larrain attends to a meeting at La Moneda Presidential Palace in Santiago, Chile, March 21, 2018.

SANTIAGO - Chile expects its economy to grow 3.2% in 2019, down from a previous estimate of 3.5% in April, the country's finance minister said Tuesday, amid slumping copper prices and a fall in global commerce.

Finance Minister Felipe Larrain told a Chilean Senate commission he expected the average copper price for 2019 to be $2.85 per pound, down sharply from a previous estimate of $3 per pound.

Copper exports from Chile, the world's top producer of the red metal, can account for as much as 15% of the nation's GDP.

"We all had higher hopes when the year started ... but to grow at 3% would be a great accomplishment for our economy this year," Larrain said.

Chile's mining sector was also impacted earlier this year by unusually heavy rains in its copper-rich northern desert and a two-week strike at Codelco's Chuquicamata copper mine, one of the world's largest.

FILE - A car is trapped in mud due to floods near a copper mine in Chuquicamata, Chile, Feb. 7, 2019.

That prompted Chile's Central Bank to cut its prediction for growth last month to 2.75% to 3.5% from a previous view of 3% to 4%.

Larrain predicted annual inflation to hit 2.2% this year, up slightly from a prediction of 2.1% in March.

The administration of center-right President Sebastian Pinera has planned nearly $1.5 billion in public spending in an effort to boost growth in the second half of 2019, Larrain said.