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International Freight Forwarding and Shipping to Latin America – Exporting to Latin America

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Learn about how to ship from the US to Latin American countries

The U.S. has Free Trade agreements (FTA) with 11 Latin American countries, including: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru.

Latin America refers to territories in the Americas where the Spanish or Portuguese languages prevail: Mexico, most of Central and South America and in the Caribbean; Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico Рin summary, Hispanic America and Brazil. The full list of countries in Latin America can be found here: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Barth̩lemy, Saint Martin, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Logistics, Initiatives and Key Gateways to Latin America

Key gateway U.S. seaports to Latin America include: Miami, Port Everglades, Jacksonville, Tampa, New York, Houston and Los Angeles/Long Beach.

40% of U.S. Exports goto Latin America; as of 2014 the U.S. has a “Look South” initiative aimed to increase trade with Latin American countries that the U.S. has free trade agreements with.

Types of shipments services include: Cargo consolidation, Warehousing, Air Freight, LCL (less than container load), FCL (full container load) which includes 20’/40’/40’HC/45’Flatracks/Reefer containers, as well as Breakbulk and RORO.

Export Trade Statistics U.S. to Latin America

• U.S. goods exports to the Western Hemisphere in 2013 were $712.1 billion, up 2.9% ($20.3 billion) from 2012. U.S. exports to the Western Hemisphere accounted for 45.1% of overall U.S. goods exports in 2013.

• The largest export markets are: Canada ($301.6 billion), Mexico ($226.1 billion), Brazil ($44.1 billion), Colombia ($18.4 billion), and Chile ($17.5 billion).

• The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2013 were: Machinery ($110.3 billion), Mineral Fuel and Oil ($95.0 billion), Electrical Machinery ($81.0 billion), Vehicles ($80.5 billion), and Plastic ($35.8 billion).

• U.S. exports of agricultural products to the Western Hemisphere countries totaled $53.7 billion in 2013. Leading categories include: wheat ($3.8 billion), prepared food ($3.3 billion), corn ($3.0 billion), soybean meal ($2.7 billion), fresh fruit ($2.7 billion), dairy products ($2.6 billion), poultry meat ($2.6 billion), and pork and pork products ($2.5 billion).

• U.S. exports of private commercial services* (i.e., excluding military and government) to the Western Hemisphere were $190.8 billion in 2013, up 5.6% ($10.1 billion) from 2012. *Data from:

Issues with Shipping to Latin American – How to Ship to Latin American Countries

If you are new to shipping and you want to know how to ship or how to export to Latin American countries, you need to understand where you can run into problems. The main issues most U.S. exporters complain about when working with buyers in this region are the complicated tax issues, complex documentation requirements, long delays in customs clearance, lack of transparency in customs regulations, and other destination related issues. Partnering with experienced logistics and transportation service providers such as American Export Lines (AEL) is the key to success.

It is VERY important for you to double-check all documentation requirements prior to shipment, AEL offers confirmation of documentation with our overseas partners to verify everything is in order prior to shipping the cargo.

Air and Ocean Freight Forwarders and NVOCC’s such as AEL help U.S. exporters navigate the difficulties in delivering products to buyers in Latin America. AEL offers specialization in freight forwarding and shipping to Latin America.

Top Export Markets for U.S. Goods in Latin America according to and

According to the IMF, growth in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay—is expected to pick up modestly, with GDP growth projected at 2.7 percent for 2014 and 3.5 percent in 2015.

Economic conditions also dimmed markedly in Chile and Peru, where investment and durable consumption led the slowdown. In contrast, Mexico’s economy has recently gathered pace, following several quarters of underperformance through early 2014.

Growth in the other commodity exporters will continue to diverge. Argentina and Venezuela are projected to be in recession both this year and next, whereas Bolivia, Ecuador, and Paraguay are expected to maintain fairly strong growth of 4 -5 percent.

In Central America, growth is projected to remain steady at around 3 percent. 2015 is expected to bring only slightly higher growth, as positive spillovers from the U.S. recovery will continue to be offset by country-specific headwinds.

Below is a list of top commodities which are in demand in Latin America which includes Central America, South America and the Caribbean:

The following countries are especially attractive for U.S. energy exporters. This includes oil and gas equipment, environmental, engineering, hydropower and electric power products: • Chile has a projected growth rate in energy consumption of more than six percent. • Colombia is looking to expand hydro power generation projects through 2018. The Dominican Republic’s power grid has unreliability that seems to stem from systemic problems within its infrastructure. • Population growth in Honduras means an expected growth in energy demand of about seven percent annually. Mexico’s energy reform bill may open up new opportunities for U.S. technology and services. • Panama is looking to make renewable energy account for 70-80 percent of the nation’s total energy production.

U.S. Grains such as corn are highly desired in Latin America due to the U.S. proximity and long standing relationship with the region. Reports show that 40 percent of all American exports are to Latin America, hence why the region is among the best U.S. trading partner. For example, Mexico is our second-largest trading partner, with U.S. exports to the country reaching in excess of $2 billion in 2012. ­

Ten countries from Latin America are on the list of Top 30 markets for U.S. Renewable Energy exports for 2015, including Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Jamaica, Venezuela, Guatemala, Uruguay, and Costa Rica.

Cargo, Logistics and Shipping Services

Services that can lead to success include consolidation of cargo for air and ocean transport, intermodal services such as Sea-Air, T&E, IT and other Asia via U.S. to Latin American logistics, DAP/DDP services at destination and consulting services on best practices for doing business in Latin America. If cargo is coming from Asia with a final destination in Latin America, one option is to ship Air or Ocean to Los Angeles, then transship via Air Ocean from Los Angeles port or LAX airport, or truck to Miami and ship via Air from MIA or Ocean from Miami / Port Everglades seaports to Latin America.

The International Trade Administration (ITA) is working alongside U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on the Customs Modernization and Border Management Reform Program. This program will bring business and governments together to discuss customs clearance issues. The program started with Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras, the main improvements so far are longer operating hours at border posts (Honduras), elimination of several administrative requirements for express shipments (El Salvador), and web portals that allow companies and government agencies at destination to submit and review all customs related documents in one place (Costa Rica).

American Export Lines offers consulting, guidance and logistical support for U.S. companies looking to export to these markets.

American Export Lines is an international freight forwarder and NVOCC founded in 1974 and headquartered in Los Angeles, CA specializing in domestic and international air freight, ocean freight, rail freight, warehousing and trucking services worldwide.

American Export Lines es un consolidador de carga internacional y NVOCC fundada en 1974 que radica en Los Angeles, CA y se especializa en carga y transporte nacional e internacional como aéreo, marítimo, ferroviario, almacenaje y servicios en todo el mundo. Somos una empresa con personal capacitado que también habla Español.

Contact us today at (800) 874-4748 or request a quote.



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