U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today unveiled a new Department of Commerce-led effort designed to help more American companies "Look South" as they work to increase their exports and grow their businesses. The Look South Initiative is specifically focused on increasing U.S. trade with the 11 Latin American economies with whom the United States has free trade agreements.
Secretary Pritzker announced the "Look South" initiative during remarks at the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles.
The Look South effort is part of Commerce's "Open for Business Agenda" and supports the President's National Export Initiative by encouraging more U.S. businesses to export to more markets. More than half of all America's free trade agreements are in Latin America. These 11 economies include Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru. Tariffs are low, if they exist at all, which makes these markets fertile ground for more U.S. exports. And, many of these countries are adopting good trade practices and standards in a variety of areas.
"Now is the time for a Look South Initiative to help businesses across the country explore Latin America's expanding markets, learn about emerging opportunities in the region, and tap into federal programs that can help companies sell more products into the region, expanding their bottom line," said Secretary Pritzker. "Our Free Trade Agreement partners in Latin America are fast-growing, with diverse industries and young populations -- and each has a burgeoning middle class. Through Look South, we are committed to connecting even more U.S. companies with these customers, so they can grow their exports, hire more workers, and help strengthen the U.S. economy."
With 58 percent of U.S. companies exporting to only one market, usually Canada or Mexico, Look South will help companies understand why expanding to more markets will improve their bottom line. While the typical business that sells to just one market generates roughly $375,000 in export sales, companies with two to four export markets have average export sales of $1 million; and those who export to five to nine markets average $3 million in sales.
Federal agencies will continue to encourage U.S. companies -- with a focus on small and medium-sized businesses -- to export to the region through enhanced trade promotion events including trade missions and trade shows. The Look South web portal, www.export.gov/LookSouth, features updated market research and information on commercial opportunities, expanded awareness of trade financing tools, and targeted public and private sector partnerships.
Major events following this announcement include Secretary Pritzker's trade mission to Mexico in February, and Trade Winds -- The Americas, a Commerce-led trade mission in May for hundreds of U.S. businesses with stops in multiple countries.