Colombia: The Republic of Colombia is the fourth largest economy in Latin America, after Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, and has the third largest population with approximately 46 million people. It is the only country in South America with two seacoasts (Pacific and Caribbean), which provides tactical shipping advantages in today’s global market. Aided by major security improvements, strong political stability, steady economic growth, and moderate inflation, Colombia has become a free market economy with major commercial and investment ties to the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
The United States is Colombia’s largest trading partner and Colombia is the 22nd largest market for U.S. exports in 2012. U.S. exports to Colombia in 2012 topped USD 16 billion, an increase of more than 14 percent over 2011.
With the implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement on May 15, 2012, Colombia is the third largest market for U.S. exports in Latin America. The agreement immediately eliminated import tariffs on 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Colombia, with remaining tariffs phased out over one to ten years.
Panama: The U.S. is Panama’s most important trading partner, with about 30% of the import market, and U.S. products enjoy a high degree of acceptance in Panama. In 2012, Panama’s economy experienced a rapid growth of 10.6% while U.S. exports to Panama also jumped 20% to USD 9.9 billion. Its strategic location as a bridge between two oceans and the meeting of two continents has made Panama not only a maritime and air transport hub, but also an international trading, banking, and services center.
The Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) between the U.S. and Panama went into effect in October 2012 and will continue to offer U.S.-made goods a competitive advantage. For 87% of U.S.-made goods, tariffs dropped to 0% immediately. For the remaining goods, however, Panama’s average tariff on goods is only 7% and in several key sectors – sales of consumables to the Government for the Canal expansion and other infrastructure projects, automobiles, and goods for use in hotels – duties are either 0% or are waived.
Chile: In 2012, bilateral trade between the United States and Chile reached USD 28.3 billion, an increase of over 350% comparable to bilateral trade levels before the U.S.-Chile FTA was implemented. As the 19th largest U.S. export market, U.S. exports to Chile in 2012 reached a record USD 18.9 billion, while imports from Chile reached USD 9.4 billion.
Both macroeconomic stability and growing integration with international capital markets has earned Chile an A+ credit rating, the highest in Latin America. Chile remains one of the most stable and prosperous developing nations and consistently ranks high on international indices relating to economic freedom, transparency, and competitiveness. It also performs very well in terms of democratic development, gross domestic product per capita, freedom of the press, and was the highest ranked country in Latin America in terms of competitiveness, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013.
Ecuador: Ecuador is a small- to medium-sized market for U.S. exports. In 2011, U.S. exports to Ecuador increased almost 12 percent to $6.06 billion. In 2012, it had a GDP of USD 84.04 billion, a growth of 24% from 2011. Following Ecuador’s economic crisis in the late 1990s, it adopted the U.S. dollar as legal tender in 2000. Ecuadorian consumers are favorably disposed to the quality of U.S. products, with nearly a quarter of imports deriving from the U.S., Ecuador’s largest trade partner.
Ecuador’s average applied tariff rate in January 2011 was approximately 12 percent. In addition to import duties, all imports are subject to a 12 percent value-added tax (IVA) and 0.5 percent children’s development fund tax. Ecuador’s pre-shipment customs inspection regime was repealed in 2008, eliminating import inspections by international verification companies.
Peru: Peru has been one of the fastest growing Latin American economies for the past ten years. Since 2002 the Peruvian economy has grown by an average of 6.4% per year, a trend expected to continue with a projected GDP growth of 6.3% in 2013. Consumption and private investment are the main driving forces of this growth. In 2012, the U.S. was the second largest destination for Peruvian exports, receiving 13.4%, and the main supplier of goods to Peru with an 18.9% market share. U.S. exports to Peru grew 37% in 2010. Principal U.S. exports to Peru in 2010 were machinery, chemicals, computer and electronics, petroleum and oil products, and transportation equipment. Fish, forestry products, wood, newspapers and books, and food products were the fastest growing sectors.
The Peruvian Government has encouraged integration with the global economy by signing a number of free trade agreements, including the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA), which entered into force in 2009. As a result of PTPA, 80 percent of U.S. consumer and industrial goods exports to Peru are no longer subject to tariffs. Tariffs on the rest of those products will be phased out by 2019.
In its November 2012 Peru Handbook, HSBC states that Peru is “the third-fastest growing consumer market globally, and set to be a bigger economy than Chile, Colombia, or even South Africa in the long term.”