Chile mission presents export opportunities for Tampa Bay businesses

If you’re a small business owner in the Tampa Bay region looking for a reason to break into a foreign market, Chile just might be the country you’re looking for, according to representatives from the U.S. International Trade Administration and U.S. Commercial Service.

A small crowd gathered at Port Tampa Bay Tuesday morning to hear from Laura Beth Ebert, Chile Desk Officer from the U.S. ITA, and Isabel Margarita Valenzuela, Senior Commercial Specialist at the U.S. Commercial Service in Santiago, Chile, regarding exporting potential for U.S. businesses. The event was intended to educate area business owners on the upcoming trade mission to Chile, scheduled for early December, sponsored by the Tampa Bay Export Alliance.

“Chile is well-known for its macroeconomic, fiscal and political stability,” Ebert said. While Chile is a small market in many regards, with just 17 million in population, Ebert says the country is on the verge of development.

“This is a country that has grown at an average of 5% growth for 15 years,” she said. “We have a free trade agreement with Chile that is 10 years old. We have quadrupled our trade with Chile since the agreement was signed, reaching $28 billion in 2013 and we’ve sextupled our exports. We now have 99% free trade with Chile.”

Another advantage to doing business with Chile is the opposite seasonal schedules. “Their winter is our summer and that makes for a great relationship,” Ebert said.

In addition, business representatives in both Chile and the U.S. can take advantage of a new Visa waiver which allows travel for business or tourism travel to both countries for up to 90 days, without a Visa.

While the country is currently undergoing a shift in political power, Ebert assured attendees that current president, Michelle Bachelet, is a proponent of international business and trade.

To that end, Chile participates in multiple partnerships to help reduce tariffs, including the Pacific Alliance and a Trans-Pacific Partnership that is still in negotiation. This will help to eliminate remaining tariffs that are not covered by current free trade agreements.

The U.S. also recently issued an MOU promoting entrepreneurship and the growth of small to medium enterprises in Chile. They are supporting this by helping to develop business centers modeled after Small Business Development Centers.

Valenzuela touched on the best export prospect industries for Chile. Those include:

  • Mining Equipment
  • Construction Machinery and Equipment
  • Energy/Electric Power Equipment
  • Water Resources Equipment
  • Food Processing and Packaging
  • Agricultural Machinery and Equipment
  • Healthcare
  • Safety and Security
  • Telecommunications
  • General Consumer Goods

The mission, scheduled December 1-5, is open to Hillsborough and Pinellas county businesses that have a viable product or service to export to Chile. It offers business owners the opportunity to meet with key individuals that will be essential to breaking into the Chilean export market. Those interested in participating must contact Lorrie Belovich, Director of International Business Development at the Tampa Hillsborough EDC, to start the application. Belovich can be contacted at or 813.518.2654. Deadline to apply is September 15 for the Gold Key package, or October 15 for the Delegate package.

Article written by Stacey Pierce, Marketing and Communications Officer