September 28, 2023

Focus on... Latin America

Comprising 20 diverse nations, Latin America covers a vast area of South and Central America. Countries within the region represent some of the world’s largest economies, writes Benjamin Coren.

Latin America loves Great Britain. In 2016, countries in the region imported £12.5billion of UK goods and services, with total trade both ways hitting £22.1billion.

With its exit from the European Union imminent, Britain needs to adapt as a global trader and rapidly-developing nations with populations keen to consume are key to the UK’s future success.

And Latin America’s young population, diverse economy and bountiful natural resources put it in a strong position as a trading partner. Speaking last year in Leeds at the Northern Powerhouse and Latin America Trade Corridor Report, Minister for Investment Graham Stuart MP said: “The IMF is predicting that 90% of global growth in the next 10 to 15 years will come from outside the EU.”

He added that the Department for International Trade is making the region a high priority. “UK export finance has doubled government support for firms looking to export into countries across the region, including up to £5billion for Mexico, £4.5billion for Chile and £3billion for Brazil.”

Brazil is the seventh biggest economy in the world with a GDP of $2.3trillion and companies such as Rolls Royce, Shell, BP and Experian operating there. It is Latin America’s largest economy and acts as a gateway for businesses in neighbouring countries. Top exports from the UK to Brazil include machinery, vehicles, pharmaceuticals, electrical appliances and chemical products.

Chile is the fifth-largest economy in South America. Despite language difference and a long travel time, international business is on the rise to this part of the world. British Airways revealed in its On Business programme data that its route to Santiago (pictured) posted yearly growth of 18% in 2018 from SMEs. The figures were backed up by James Ashton-Bell, CBI Head of International Trade, who said: “2018 was a great year for UK exports, with new records set for innovative British goods and services reaching overseas destinations. Small and scale-up firms are powering this drive, breaking into new markets and discovering that demand for British expertise is ever-growing.”

Chile also benefits from free trade agreements with the majority of goods from the UK entering the country with zero tariffs. In Peru and Colombia, the Department for International Trade names beverages, vehicles, machinery and pharmaceuticals as export opportunities.

Meanwhile, in Argentina top exports from the UK include plastics, chemicals, medical equipment, professional and scientific instruments, machinery and mechanical appliances. More businesses in the UK than ever are seeking expansion overseas and in Latin America in particular.

“With exports now reaching £626billion we look forward to 2019. Overseas trade will continue to play a crucial part in economic growth and my international economic department will do all it can to support UK businesses to expand their operations overseas”, says International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP.


British Airways: Flies to Santiago five times a week from London Heathrow. The carrier also operates direct flights to Lima three times a week between April and October, and for the rest of the year it operates a one-stop service from Heathrow. There are additional daily services from Heathrow to Rio, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, as well as a five times a week service to Mexico City from London Heathrow. There is also a three-times-weekly service from Gatwick to San Jose, Costa Rica.

Latam: Operates a daily service to Sao Paulo from London Heathrow.

Norwegian: Flies daily from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires and, from March 31, will all also offer four weekly flights to Rio de Janeiro.

Avianca:Operates a daily service from London Heathrow to Bogota, Colombia.

Aeromexico: Flies daily from London Heathrow to Mexico City. There is also a new seasonal flight from the UK to Belize via Mexico City offering convenient same-day connections for UK travellers.

One-stop options: TAP operates routes to Rio and Sao Paulo via its Lisbon hub. Air Europa flies from Gatwick via Madrid to 18 destinations in South America including Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, Sao Paulo. British Airways partner Iberia flies to Buenos Aires, Lima, Rio, Sao Paulo and Bogota via Madrid.

Air France KLM flies to various destinations in the region via its Paris hub and there are flights via US hubs with United, Delta and American Airlines.


Melia Hotels: Has a strong presence in Latin America with properties in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Peru.

NH Hotels:The group is well represented in these countries with hotels located in the country capitals and additional hotels in Chile.

Accor Hotels: Has amongst the largest coverage in Latin America with over 200 properties in Brazil, and a solid presence in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru.

Intercontinental Hotels Group: Has properties in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Santiago, Medellin and Caracas.

Marriott: Has an abundance of hotels in the region with most of its hotels in Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Ecuador. It also has locations in Central America in Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras.

Off Duty

Bogota: Visit the city’s cobblestoned centre, La Candelaria, which features colonial-era landmarks. Also check out Plaza Bolivar and the Gold Museum and art on display at Museo Botero.

Buenos Aires: See the city’s colourful houses at La Boca. In the central Plaza de Mayo visit the cathedral and the presidential palace or see the tombs at Recoleta cemetery.

Lima: From Lima’s central square visitors can see the government palace, cathedral, and the archbishop’s palace. Discover Peru’s history at the Larco Museum and find the ruins of Huaca Pullana. The beaches of Miraflores are a great place to escape.

Rio De Janeiro: Climb up Corcovado Mountain for stunning views and the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. Take the cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain or relax on Copacabana beach.

Sao Paulo: Discover green fields at Ibirapuera Park. Paulista Avenue is the location of numerous museums, restaurants and bars. The Museum of Art has a vast and impressive collection.

Santiago: Climb San Cristobal Hill for views of the city with a backdrop of the Andes. The central Plaza de Armas is filled with statues and is a central focal point of the city.