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One Year Later, Look South Looking Brighter

January 9, 2015

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Joe Matthews recently completed an internship in the International Trade Administration’s Office for Export Policy, Promotion, and Strategy.

As yet another polar vortex bears down on much of the United States, we in the trade community can still find some sunshine in the fresh trade data through November 2014. Our export numbers are up globally, and some bright spots are appearing for trade with our friends to the south one year after launching the Look South initiative — they include:

  • U.S. goods exports to Look South markets (our 11 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partner countries in Latin America) increased by $16.0 billion through November 2014, which accounts for more than one-third of the increase in U.S. global exports over the same period in 2013.
  • Despite most being small- and medium-sized economies, these 11 trade partners represent 20.3 percent of total U.S. good exports through November 2014, up from 16.7 percent in 2009.
  • In 2012 (the latest data available), more than 89,000 American companies exported to Look South markets. This is an increase of more than 2,600 from 2011.
  • In particular, Mexico stands out as an excellent place for U.S. companies to look for new opportunities as 1,700 of those 2,600 new firms entered the Mexican market.

Mexico is one hot destination, as goods exported to Mexico rose more than $13 billion through November 2014, an increase of 6.5 percent.  The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects Mexico’s economic growth at 3.5 percent in 2015, which is a sizeable increase from the IMF’s 2014 prediction of 2.4 percent and bodes well for U.S. exports.

Colombia is an emerging export market thanks to the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement that entered into force in 2012. U.S. exports to Colombia have increased by $1.8 billion through November 2014, a 10.8 percent increase over the same period 2013. Colombia was also a recent winner in the World Bank’s 2015 Doing Business reports, jumping from 53 to 34 to take the top spot for all of Latin America.

The popularity of Latin American FTA markets as export destinations is heightened by improvements in economic growth. According to IMF estimates, in 2014, the top four economic growth performers in the region are Panama, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, and Colombia, three of which have FTAs with the United States. Strong growth in both the United States and these countries will positively affect one another, helping encourage trade.

Through November 2014, our progress with the Look South Initiative shines. So grab your warm weather gear and Look South for bright new opportunities—don’t forget your shades!

One comment

  1. Very positive numbers coming “south of the border”. Often overlooked as less critical emerging markets, the Latin economies are reliable and convenient for US exporters. The Look South initiative comes at an excellent time.



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