What exciting times we live in! The vote to leave the EU has focused minds on the importance of exporting and increasing the number of companies in the UK that sell their products and services overseas. It is providing impetus for companies to also seek to diversify their markets outside of the EU, looking at trading partners that they may not have otherwise considered. I was thinking about the media’s role in raising awareness of other countries around the world. In terms of other countries, the UK news is currently dominated by stories about the USA and the Middle East (and cricket scores) and even though we have been members of the EU for many years, until the run-up to the Brexit vote, there was limited coverage of European countries, never mind a region of the world like Latin America.
Before I set up own company in 2002, I worked for 4 years for a Northern Ireland manufacturer of building products who exported extensively around the world. My role there was as International Business Manager for North, Central and South America. I had already been working in international trade for 4 years in Europe and South Africa, and my new role would give me the opportunity to travel and work in an entirely new continent. It was both a thrilling and daunting prospect. Outside of the US and Canada, I knew very little about the countries that would become my sales territory and I knew it was going to be a steep learning curve. Over the following 4 years, I spent around 80% of my time travelling around the American continent, building new business for my employer and came to realise that the markets in Latin America, although relatively unknown to most UK companies, are actually very similar to us in terms of culture and business etiquette and should most definitely be on the radar of UK exporters.
I’ve kept up my contacts with Latin America and have continued to visit over the last several years. I am currently underatking a 3-week trip to Costa Rica, Panama, Chile and Peru to take a look at current opportunities for UK companies in each of these markets. I’m currently in Costa Rica for a series of meetings with business organisations and companies. I hope to share impressions, observations and opportunities in the coming days and weeks, so follow my blog if you are interested in finding out more and if you would like to speak to me about opportunities for your business in Latin America, please get in contact!