Look South: Increasing U.S. Trade with Latin America

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Created on January 13, 2014

During President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address, he expressed that, “Latin America represents an incredible opportunity for the United States, especially when it comes to my top priority as President: creating good, middle-class jobs… Right now, over 40 percent of our exports go to the Americas.”

As part of the Obama administration’s continued work to promote exports and strengthen the U.S. economy, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker unveiled "Look South,” a new initiative aimed specifically at increasing U.S. trade with Latin American economies with whom the U.S. has free trade agreements (FTA).

Look South is part of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” and supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative by encouraging the expansion of export markets. Minority business enterprises (MBEs) are uniquely positioned to benefit from the Look South effort, which will help them expand to new export markets and generate more revenue. MBEs are twice as likely to export compared to non-minority firms, more than three times as likely to generate 100 percent of all their sales from exports, and are better able to expand abroad because of linguistic and cultural ties to a region. View Minority-Owned Firms Lead the Nation in Exporting Fact Sheet

More than half of all America’s free trade agreements are in Latin America. The FTA partners have shown increased demands for U.S. products, as well as stable and growing business environments. The 11 FTA partners in Latin America include: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic , El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru.

Given the FTAs, doing business in these rapidly growing Latin American markets is now easier than ever. Under these FTAs, U.S. firms can enjoy benefits such as:

*Low or zero tariff rates for exported products into these markets

*Improved business environment for services and government procurement

*Reduced market access barriers

*Forecasted economic growth in these markets

Reports show that 40 percent of all American exports are to Latin America, hence why the region is among the best U.S. trading partner. For example, Mexico is our second-largest trading partner, with U.S. exports to the country reaching in excess of $2 billion in 2012. 

For more information, visit the Look South web portal www.export.gov/looksouth, a Look South fact sheet, or e-mail looksouth@trade.gov.

*Source: www.export.gov/LookSouth

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