importing exporting latin america

Importing and exporting in Latin America’s biggest economies

Latin America’s GDP is set to grow in 2024 thanks to Latin America’s four biggest economies: Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia. Those economies have become very big in importing and exporting. Forecasted GDP for all four countries is set to grow next year, contributing to the region’s growth of 6.5% and beating the Asia-Pacific growth rate of 5.3%.

That’s a significant vote of confidence for the region and has caught the attention of investors and businesses worldwide. This is valuable information for those who want to form a company in Brazil or elsewhere in the region. Although Latin American economies have suffered various degrees of crises in the last decade, 2024 is the year for moving up. We look at importing and exporting opportunities in Latin America’s four biggest economies.

At Biz Latin Hub, we know all about importing and exporting from the area, as no one knows Latin America and the Caribbean as well as we do. With 18 dedicated local offices across the region, we have every base covered. Our array of back office services can help you all the way from company formation and market entry right through to compliance with local laws and even termination if necessary.

How does importing and exporting work in Brazil?

As a member of BRICS, Brazil is a major regional powerhouse economy. Additionally, it is home to a great infrastructure and transportation system that facilitates trade. The ability to modernize key sectors to become more efficient and productive is a business opportunity for foreign businesses and entrepreneurs. The country, as a whole, is very open to foreign investment regarding foreign ownership of businesses and visas.

How to import into Brazil?

Brazil’s top import countries are China, the United States, Argentina, Germany and South Korea. Top imports are machines, chemical products, refined petroleum, transportation and plastics and rubbers.

Generally speaking, Brazil is not a large importing nation when compared with similarly sized economies. Given its large agricultural export sector, many organic chemicals are imported to support growth. It is projected that Brazil will account for 70% of the world’s arable land growth by 2050. Technologies and equipment that can help maximize the production and efficiency of this land create opportunities for those with agricultural technical expertise.

How to export from Brazil?

A map of Brazil highlighting major cities including Manaus, Fortaleza, Salvador de Bahia, Brasília, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre. Each city is marked with a label indicating its status as a capital, port city for importing and exporting goods or inland city. The map includes neighboring countries.
A Brazil map with main cities for importing and exporting

Top exported products from Brazil are mineral products (iron ore and crude petroleum), soybeans, foodstuffs (nearly half is raw sugar, followed by coffee), transportation, metals and animal meat. Brazil’s top export partners are China, the United States, Argentina, Netherlands and Japan. 42% of Brazil’s export goods are exported to Asia.

Brazil is famous for its soybean production. Growers are able to command higher prices due to high protein levels and non-genetically modified crops. Brazil is more dependent than ever on China following its trade war with the United States, and China is now importing more soybeans from Brazil than the US.

A large dependence on the export of commodities means a change in prices can wreak havoc on the economy. It is expected the country will look to expand other export areas to mitigate risk in the event commodity prices drop. Opportunities exist to grow other export sectors such as oil, gas and animal meat using technical expertise to increase productivity.

How does importing and exporting work in Mexico?

Trade and investment opportunities in Mexico are accessible and lucrative. Benefits include its geographical location with access to the Atlantic and Pacific as well as bordering the United States and Central America. It also has a wealth of FTAs, covering 46 countries. Key sectors including mining, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism. Mexico is looking to lighten its dependence on the United States and strengthen relationships with other trade partners.

How to import into Mexico?

Mexico’s top imports are machinery (including electrical goods) vehicles, mineral products, plastics and chemical products. Many of these products are transformed in Mexico and reexported. Top import partners are United States, China, Germany, Japan and South Korea.

One area of opportunity for those looking at importing into Mexico lies in its exports. Agricultural and manufacturing innovative technologies that aid productivity and improve the quality of export goods will help strengthen its economy. There is potential for countries with strong Research and Development competencies to invest in technology transfer and provide support and education to Mexican firms.

How to export from Mexico?

Top exports are machines (electric equipment and computers), vehicles, mineral fuels, fruit and vegetable products and medical instruments. Mexico’s top export countries are the United States, Canada, Germany, China and Japan.

An infographic titled "Mexico: Market Snapshot." It features a waving Mexican flag and key statistics: Population 127.5 million, GDP USD $1.466 billion, GDP per capita (PPP) USD $11,496, Capital City Ciudad de México, Major Exports Cars, Computers, Crude Petroleum, Motor vehicles. Includes LLC formation in Mexico insights based on 2022 World Bank Data
Economic snapshot for Mexican importing and exporting

Mexico has a cost advantage for specialized manufacturing over many other economies. It therefore presents expansion opportunities for firms looking to secure low-cost production and set up manufacturing facilities. For firms that manufacture goods using different inputs, Mexico’s proximity to the United States can help to shorten supply chains.

The automotive industry in Mexico is growing every year. Volkswagen and General Motors are just a few of the international brands who have set up manufacturing plants in the country and the export opportunities for Mexican vehicles are plentiful.

Mexico’s exports are highly concentrated and dependent on the United States. Therefore, Mexico is more susceptible due to shocks following changes in the US economy. The country is looking to shift its high trade dependence on the United States in coming years – opening opportunities for other nations to grab a slice of the pie.

How to import and export to/from Argentina?

As part of MERCOSUR and home to free trade zones and special customs areas, Argentina is an appealing destination for importing and exporting. Furthermore, investor-friendly reforms and policies make business in Argentina easier for foreign nationals and firms.

How to import into Argentina?

Argentina’s top imported products include machines (largely telephones), cars and vehicle parts, chemical products, mineral products (including refined petroleum and petroleum gas) and metals. Top import origin countries are Brazil, China, the United States, Germany and Mexico. Given the free trade zones and special customs area, Argentina acts as a gateway to South America, particularly to other MERCOSUR countries. Importing products through these zones can save on tariff costs.

E-commerce is on the rise in Argentina, with the number of online shoppers, and their spending, growing each year. This presents opportunities for those interested in the development of online vendor technologies and selling their products online. Online shopping is increasingly popular with most people using credit cards.

The e-commerce platforms themselves need innovation in order to facilitate the industry’s growth, as well as improvements to logistics. The ability to deliver products quickly will further boost the use of e-commerce in Argentina.

How to export from Argentina?

Top exports for Argentina are foodstuffs (more than half is soy based), vehicles, cereal, animal/vegetable fats and meat. Top export destinations are Brazil, the US, China, Chile and Vietnam. Meat is a key export category, along with mineral fuels, vehicles, and fish. Given Argentina has over 30 million hectares of arable land, the agricultural industry holds promising prospects for those looking to secure high-quality products.

Exports of Argentina’s world-famous meat are on the up and lucrative opportunities exist. Argentine beef exports are now able to be sent to the US after a long ban. Subsequently, the distribution of Argentinian beef in the United States is a growth destination for Argentinian meat exports.

The oil and gas sector also holds opportunities for those with a competitive advantage in hydrocarbon technologies. The government has lowered tariffs on the importation of equipment that can facilitate the exploration and exportation of hydrocarbons.

How does importing and exporting work in Colombia?

Colombia is strategically well placed, with deep sea ports on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Logistics and infrastructure serve these ports well and there are a number of busy cargo airports. The country is an OECD member as well as being an associate of Mercosur and full member on the Community of Andean Nations. This all makes importing and exporting from the country easy and hassle-free.

Importing into Colombia

Colombia’s top imports are machines (high percentage broadcasting equipment), chemical products, transportation, mineral products and metals. other big groups are foodstuffs, textiles and medical instruments. Top countries for Colombian imports are United States, China, Mexico, Brazil and Germany.

The importation of equipment that supports the Colombian agricultural sector has potential. New technology that can help the productivity, efficiency and quality of the agricultural products and services is necessary. The Colombian government also offers subsidies on the importation of agricultural equipment. Technology and knowledge transfer has further developed the agriculture sector, leading to opportunities for countries with expertise in this area.

Exporting from Colombia

How to form a company S.A.S. in Colombia?
An SAS company in Colombia is an option for importing and exporting from the region

More than half of Colombia’s exports are mineral products (crude petroleum and coal briquettes)  followed by coffee, cut flowers, bananas, chemical products (including pesticides), and gold. Top export partners are United States, Panama, China, Netherlands, Mexico, and Ecuador.

Colombia is being transformed into an export platform. Foreign firms such as Coca-Cola are setting up manufacturing plants to maximize Colombia’s geographical position as a gateway to Latin America. Benefits such as a cost-competitive and profitable business environment backed by government support make manufacturing in Colombia a real opportunity.

Another export opportunity in Colombia is that of medicinal cannabis. A sector that was legalized in August 2017, the market is expected to reach USD$243 billion by 2025. With land and a climate that is perfect for its cultivation, the government now issues licenses for the legal manufacture of medicinal cannabis. As legalization becomes more common throughout the world, the export opportunities are huge.

Biz Latin Hub can help with importing and exporting across Latin America

If you are interested in trade between Latin America and your country, whether it be exporting or importing, Biz Latin Hub has the expertise to help you.

With country offices throughout Latin America, our staff can offer specialized advice and guidance to help you set up in Latin America.

Reach out to our team today to get started.

Learn more about our team and expert authors.

A graphic showing the key services offered by Biz Latin Hub, including PEO in Honduras
Biz Latin Hub services can help with importing and exporting across Latin America

The information provided here within should not be construed as formal guidance or advice. Please consult a professional for your specific situation. Information provided is for informative purposes only and may not capture all pertinent laws, standards, and best practices. The regulatory landscape is continually evolving; information mentioned may be outdated and/or could undergo changes. The interpretations presented are not official. Some sections are based on the interpretations or views of relevant authorities, but we cannot ensure that these perspectives will be supported in all professional settings.
International Trade Experts
International Trade Experts

International Trade Experts are the Biz Latin Hub's leading experts on international commerce and ExIm regulations. You can get in touch with them via our "contact us page".

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