14 June 2016 By Northern Lights
The UK must do much more to seize business opportunities in Latin America or risk losing out to the rest of the world warned a leading Uruguayan business expert from Sunny Sky Solutions at an event with thebigword in London which looked at how British firms can break into the rapidly growing region.
Gabriela Castro-Fontoura of Sunny Sky Solutions, who specialises in supporting UK firms to win Latin American deals, says the whole world is trying to “loot” key countries after 12 years of growth but a UK presence on the ground and at key trade shows is missing.
She says: “Latin America has been growing for 12 years – the opportunities are massive. Every nation is targeting the same opportunities but I rarely see a British presence. There is a lot of catching up to be done by the UK.”
The event with thebigword and Sunny Sky Solutions looked at the challenges and opportunities for businesses looking to Latin America and guests heard UK firms must remember there are 20 different countries, each with their own culture and opportunities.
At the event, Gabriela also warned that the Brexit debate was having a big impact on the appetite of investors and buyers in Latin America.
She said: “Businesses hate uncertainty. Latin American businesses need to know UK firms can deliver and they can’t say they will be able to after the referendum at the minute.
“If Britain leaves the EU, it will lose out on the free trade agreements negotiated by the EU in Latin America. What resources does the UK have to renegotiate all of these deals again? How fast will that happen? If it loses out, British firms could face import duties of up to 60% and that will price them out of the market.
“The fear is that it will take two to five years and, if Britain doesn’t move quickly, you can guarantee the EU competition will fill that gap.”
A key message from the event was that UK firms looking to seize Latin American opportunities had to have a clear long-term strategy to focus on a key market and build from there. Attendees were warned that a blanket approach to Latin America will not work as each country is so different.
Operations manager at thebigword, Caroline Storey, said: “The biggest mistake we see people make is not translating their product to match the language and the culture. Each country is different. A generic ‘Latin American Spanish’ will not resonate with certain markets and could even be insulting.
“You have to get out there and get the expertise you need to fully understand each culture. Communication doesn’t have to be difficult, but it’s far better to communicate in their language and respect any cultural nuances or differences.”
Gabriela has written an ebook called The SME guide to Latin America which provides expert advice on what to expect and also provides guidance on how to create a successful strategy. The ebook is available at https://www.harriman-house.com/the-sme-guide-to-latin-america