Latin America and the Caribbean is a dynamic and diverse region with a total population of almost 638 million people. The rise in urbanisation has led to significant social and economic transformations and has underscored the need for improved housing, essential services and transportation. The region has achieved significant social and economic progress with Brazil, and Mexico respectively being the 7th and 11th largest economies in the world. Colombia has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies and is ranked 30th worldwide.
Favourable political, economic and social trends in Latin America offer opportunities for Victoria to diversify its engagement beyond traditional economic partners. These trends include growing demand for higher efficiency in key industries and pro-business agendas across the region.
The Pacific Alliance economic trade bloc, comprising Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru accounts for 46 per cent of the region’s exports and 50 per cent of its total imports. Australia is one of the first countries to begin negotiating an FTA with the Pacific Alliance. New direct flights between Santiago and Melbourne, serviced by LATAM Airlines since 2017 have been a key driver of education, business, and investment-related travel.
Opportunities for Victorians looking to do business with Latin America
Victorian universities are increasingly popular among Latin American higher education students, presenting opportunities for continued growth in student recruitment from the region, generating research partnerships and integrating Victorian providers into regional scholarship programs.
There are significant opportunities for Victorian VET providers to develop partnerships in Latin America to respond to upskilling needs and plans to develop VET systems, including through tailored courses and onshore delivery.
METS & alternative energy
As mines and operations are established throughout Latin America, the demand for METS, capital, infrastructure, education, community engagement, environmental and safety elements grow. In Colombia, vast areas of land will become available for mining following the peace accord signed in 2016. The ‘lithium triangle’ comprising Argentina, Bolivia and Chile is estimated to contain 80 per cent of the world’s lithium brine resources.
Ecuador has emerged as an attractive mining and hydrocarbons destination. Cuba, Guatemala, Guyana and Panama are also attracting interest from Victoria’s mining and petroleum companies.
Food & agricultural innovation
As middle-class populations in Latin America expand, the demand for convenient and premium products grows. The impacts of diet-related conditions such as obesity and heart disease are projected to increase, which has spurred the demand for healthy products. There is a clear opportunity to respond to these drivers by further integrating Victorian food exports and processed food expertise into Latin American supply chains.
Latin America is home to one-quarter of the world’s arable land and one-third of global freshwater resources. To increase productivity in these sectors, the region requires the adoption of new technologies. It is projected that as Latin America's dominance as a source of the world's food and fibre products grows, there will be greater opportunities for Victorian businesses skilled in areas of research and development, logistics, and infrastructure development.
Victoria’s strong liveability credentials position our professional services firms as ideal partners to participate in urban and regional improvement projects.
Rapid urbanisation across Latin America requires investment in water supply and sanitation, flood mitigation and public transport systems to create liveable and productive cities. Widespread open tender processes and growing interest in public private partnership (PPP) models present opportunities for Victorian infrastructure providers.
Medtech, pharma & healthcare
Victoria's world-leading and internationally recognised medical and pharmaceutical industries are strongly positioned to meet Latin America's growing demand for healthcare, medical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology services.
- Victoria's total merchandise exports to Latin America exceeded A$230 million in 2017-18.
- Two-way trade between Latin America and Victoria exceeded A$1.9 billion in 2017-18.
- Over 15,000 Latin American students were enrolled in Victorian educational institutions in 2017, representing a 400 per cent increase over the past decade.
- In 2016-17, Mexico accounted for 37 per cent of Victorian food and fibre exports to Latin America
- Latin America is the world’s most urbanised region with 80 per cent of the overall population living in cities and towns. This figure is expected to reach 90 per cent by 2050.
- The World Bank – Data (2016), https://data.worldbank.org/
- World in 2050, PWC 2017
- Pacific Alliance FTA, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade www.dfat.gov.au
- DFAT STARS Database, based on ABS Cat No 5368.0, June 2016 data
- DFAT STARS Database, based on ABS Cat No 5368.0, June 2016 data
- The World Bank 2015
Victoria's Latin America Trade and Investment Strategy Launch
Released on 29 May 2018, Victoria's Latin America Trade and Investment Strategy PDF, 3.2 MB outlines the Victorian Government’s plans to deepen and expand the state’s economic ties with the region. It identifies key trends in Latin America and aligns Victoria’s capabilities with in-market demands.
VIDEO: Victoria's Latin America Trade and Investment Strategy Launch
Discover how your business can export to Latin America
- The Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) office in Santiago, Chile officially opened in October 2016. The Santiago VGTI provides tailored market intelligence, local insights and guidance for your export business. They can also connect you with overseas buyers and industry partners in Latin America.
- covers Latin America and the Caribbean. The office can provide tailored market intelligence, local insights and guidance for your export business. They can also connect you with overseas buyers and industry partners in Latin America.
- Austrade's market profiles provide further detail and facts about Latin American markets.
- The Victorian Government provides support to businesses through a range of grants, vouchers and assistance programs.
- The International Chamber House (ICH) in Melbourne's city centre is a business networking hub for international bilateral chambers and business associations. It provides members access to meeting rooms with video-conferencing, flexible workspaces and a function space for international business development events.
- Visit our regional insights page and read current updates from our Regional Specialists