South Florida is an important market for Chile. In 2011, Chile was positioned as Miami’s eighth commercial partner. However, we want to grow that relationship by 2015, when 100 percent of trade between Chile and the United States will be tax free. Miami would benefit from this.
In 2011, total trade between Chile and Miami reached $4.6 billion. We’re expanding our exportable offerings so that we can please the market and gain the place we strive for as a trade partner. Currently, the main food products exported to Florida are seafood, fresh fruit, wine, juice and chicken, respectively. However, in the United States, Chilean supply is diversified with all kinds of fresh fruit, salmon filets, wine, poultry and cattle, olive oil, powdered milk, olives, pisco, etc. In fact, the United States is the No. 1 destination for our food and beverage exports, receiving 21 percent of industry shipments to the world in 2011.
We want to spread this success to Miami. With its multicultural market and Florida being the gateway for Latin American products to the United States, with 40 percent of all the U.S. exports that leave to Latin America, we have a good opportunity to be a bigger part of the market. And we’re ready for it.
Until recent years, Chile was known in the world for its copper exports. Nowadays, the country is a relevant player in the food sector, currently developing new products focused on niche markets and innovating with its most traditional Chilean products to add value to its exports. Chile is also developing new marketing channels, such as organic products and halal and kosher foods.
There are several factors that make Chile a solid commercial partner. Our country’s competitive advantages allow it to produce quality food that stands out: the geographical isolation of the country (desert in the north, the Pacific Ocean, the Andes and the Patagonian ice) reduces the incidence of pests and diseases; the Mediterranean-like climate is beneficial for obtaining optimal raw material; and the graded and counter-season production provides a marketable opportunity.
The political and economic stability that encourages entrepreneurship, modern infrastructure and export logistics, the use of technology for the production and processing of different products and the meeting of international standards and certifications all make Chile a safe and reliable supplier of healthy, quality food.
Our country also offers legal certainty and is a secure place in which to do business. It has a network of 22 trade agreements with 59 countries and 24 agreements to avoid double taxation. Chile is the leader in the region in several international rankings of transparency, economic freedom, ease of doing business and competitiveness.
Currently, the United States is one of Chile’s most important trading partners. Both countries have formed a productive and mutually beneficial economic partnership. It has been favored by the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement, which has been in place for almost nine years and has allowed a strong increase of bilateral trade, from $8.2 billion in 2004 to $23.2 billion in 2011.
We still have major challenges to address as a country striving for development, but we have responsible fiscal policies and a healthy level of economic growth that offer trust in future stability. In a global-crisis environment greatly influenced by the situation facing Europe, economists agree that Chile has the strength to cope. Chile’s economy grew by 5.6 percent during the first quarter of 2012, and estimates from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development indicate that this year Chile will have one of the highest economic growths within the region (4.4 percent). This makes us a solid commercial partner for the South Florida market and for the rest of the country.
Our commitment to quality and reliability, as well as the dedication that we place in achieving our goals will get us to the place we want to have within the Miami market. Our business and our products speak for themselves, and as the market continues to listen, we will continue to grow.
Gustavo Rodríguez is trade commissioner of Chile to Miami.