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Last week, Deputy United States Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro led a delegation of U.S. officials to Santiago, Chile for the 7th meeting of the United States-Chile Free Trade Commission (FTC). While in Santiago, Deputy Assistant USTR for Small Business, Market Access and Industrial Competitiveness Christina Sevilla discussed small business issues with Brad Bodenhausen, Executive Vice President of the Springfield Missouri Chamber of Commerce. Through an American Business Fellow program in Chile, Bodenhausen has been conducting research to identify potential export opportunities to Chile for the 1700 mostly small- and medium-sized southwest Missouri businesses that the Springfield Chamber represents.
“Based on the trade statistics and my meetings with U.S. companies successfully operating in Chile, I have noticed a few common themes. First, businesses with perhaps the greatest potential for success, including small business, are those that supply equipment, technology or innovation (i.e. problem-solving) to the leading industries in Chile. The five industries of primary focus should be mining, wine-making, salmon farming, agribusiness/food processing and forestry products,” said Bodenhausen.
He highlighted specific export opportunities that could support jobs in Missouri and Iowa:
“Missouri’s leading exports to Chile include grinding [instruments] used in the milling process and wood barrels used by Chilean wine-makers. Iowa exports excavators for the mining industry and other types of heavy machinery used in agriculture and construction.
"A second area of opportunity exists for companies that are doing innovative things in the areas of energy and environmental stewardship…Energy production and consumption, water usage, industrial efficiency, and land use decision-making are some of the current challenges the country is debating. U.S. companies that have expertise in these areas, especially those that can help Chile’s industries operate in a more efficient and environmentally-friendly way, will have opportunities to succeed here.”
Bodenhausen also identified challenges for U.S. small businesses seeking to operate in Chile, such as finding local partners with industry expertise and networks, and competition from third countries such as China. During the FTC meetings, Ambassador Sapiro and Chilean officials discussed ways to overcome these challenges so that small- and medium-sized businesses can more easily take advantage of the benefits of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement.
Already, trade between the U.S. and Chile has nearly tripled since the trade agreement entered into force in 2004, with bilateral trade in goods between our countries growing from more than $6 billion in 2003 to $18 billion in 2010.
Building on this positive trend, USTR is working to help U.S. small businesses increase American exports to Chile in support of more jobs here at home.