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Doing business in Latin America

Doing business in Latin America
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Posted: Wed 21st Jan 2015

Operating out of Uruguay, via Skipton and Edinburgh, Gabriela Castro-Fontoura is founder of Sunny Sky Solutions; a company specialising in helping British businesses export to Latin America.

Ahead of a free webinar on this topic, Gaby introduces herself and the trading opportunity.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Gaby

I am originally from Uruguay (but I don't bite!) and I love Latin America. I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of living thirteen years in the UK (in Durham, Edinburgh, Yorkshire and even Cardiff), where I graduated as an economist and where my understanding of British business made me realise just how much there is to be done to support small businesses to start and improve trade with Latin America.

So, prompted by local businesses I knew that were always so keen to learn about countries like Brazil, Mexico and even my native Uruguay, I set up my consultancy, Sunny Sky Solutions, originally in Skipton, then in Edinburgh, and now back in Montevideo, where I moved back to two years ago with my husband and two kids.

Trade between Latin America and the UK is really my passion and I have worked with some impressive British companies and look forward to working with lots more across this amazing continent.

How big an opportunity is Latin America for UK businesses?

Huge, really. Latin America has been growing while Britain's traditional export markets have been stagnating. This growth means there is potential in consumer goods, with a growing middle class that is buying more goods and services than ever before. With growth comes pressure on infrastructure, energy, mining, security, manufacturing and other areas that make Latin America attractive for those working in b2b.

There are plenty of free trade agreements between the EU and Latin America, and some countries are culturally not that different from the UK.

Where should a business start when considering export to Latin America?

First of all, we're talking about 20 countries, so choose your market(s) carefully. And think regionally rather than in terms of individual countries, because there are lots of synergies to exploit. Although many people speak English, Spanish and Portuguese (for Brazil) are a must. Business is personal, so take your time to build relationships.

Business is also slow, so adjust your timescales! Don't rely on emails, regular phone and face-to-face contact are key. And don't focus solely on huge markets like Brazil and Mexico, there are other very interesting markets, too.

What do you think will be popular products in 2015?

To start with, think about brazil and the Olympics in 2016, and start getting ready! For 2015, I can see for example a growth in imported gourmet food and drink, luxury fashion and also in services - don't forget that tourism is a key UK export to Latin America. The same applies to education, from English as a foreign language through to MBAs.

Ecommerce is growing fast in Latin America, and smartphone usage is impressive by world standards. Safety and security are also key areas, both for individuals and businesses.

How do you say 'can we do business together' in Spanish?!

This question made me think for a while. I guess you never actually need to ask that question, because you build the relationship to a point when business just flows. And this reminds me, get a good translator!

Join the free webinar with Gaby on Wednesday 28 January to find out more about the opportunity to do business in what is a large and growing market.

 
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