Category Archives: Featured

Panama: A Model for Economic Growth and Sustainability

Panama Panama is currently in the middle of an economic boom, and it’s easy to see. With a sustained average annual growth rate of nearly 9%, the country’s per capita GDP has doubled over the last ten years, catapulting them ahead of nearly every other economy in the region. In a nutshell, they have set the standard model for economic development in Central America, and look to sustain this growth long-term. But what’s driving the growth, and what plans do they have to sustain it?


This most recent growth performance has been driven by steady investment, both public and private, in a well-supported atmosphere of state-regulated economic stability, paired with wise financial policies. According to the IMF, in its latest economic assessment of the Central American nation, this has a lot to do with the Panama Canal expansion, as well as a massive construction boom, and large public infrastructure projects. In 2012, real GDP growth was estimated as high as 10.7%, according to the same IMF report.


Another reason for betting on sustained future growth has been strong macroeconomic stability, highlighted by full dollarization, as well as domestic services expansion around both the Canal Zone, and the Colon Free Zone. The Colon Free zone, which sits at the top of the Canal, has become a major area for trade, helping to boost international and domestic commerce by removing restrictions and excess taxes. According to the IMF, wise fiscal consolidation has also helped bring gross public debt to 39.2% of the nations GDP in 2012. This is a drastic drop compared to the 66.2% it was at a mere 8 years ago, in 2005.


Combined with strong growth and a sound financial sector, these number lead to Panama obtaining its positive investment grade in 2010. The country was also given a recent upgrade by Moody’s, making it one of the highest rated emerging markets, and putting it in the same class with countries like Mexico, Brazil, and Peru. And despite a global economic crisis and turbulent marketplace, Panama has remained resilient, with low reliance on wholesale funding, and high capital and liquidity ratios.


The year 2013 is shaping up to be hot one for investment on the isthmus, with many companies staking their claim in the burgeoning boom of Panama’s prosperity. The small country has a lot to offer, and if they stay on course, should have a great economic future based on stability, sound policies, and good investments.


To connect with the top companies, executives, and decision makers in Panama and throughout Latin America, contact us today, and find out how Latin Target can help you. What is Latin Target? Find out at

Latin America’s Business Travel Boom: Why doing on-site business is getting easier

With rapid growth all across the region, it’s no surprise that business travel in Latin America is in the midst of a rapid change. Despite the advances in e-business and technology, many people still value face-to-face meetings over virtual ones, and as a result, the travel industry is listening. There are now more direct flights to more cities in Central and South America than ever before.  New hotels are being constructed, or remodeled. And the infrastructure in getting business travelers back and forth from destination is being updated, and made more efficient. In short, business travel in Latin America has never been easier.


Where’s the Growth?


According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in their “Global Business Travel Spending Outlook 2011-2015” Brazil, Mexico and Argentina remain the key business travel hubs, generating around 75% of the region’s business travel volume. And while this statistic isn’t necessarily new, it’s the other, less traditional business hubs, such as Colombia, Chile, and Peru, which are really starting to impress the average business traveler. According the same study, Colombia now makes up 8.2% of total business travel spending in the region. To break that down another way, that’s USD $3.35 billion annually; a number unheard of not too many years back.


What’s Growing?


Despite industry-wide economic challenges, the Airline industry has a large part to do with the business travel growth in Latin America. Major Latin American carriers such as Copa, LATAM, and Tame have added new routes from more US and European cities, with plans for more on the way in the future. More direct flights to key business centers have also been added to save time, and to make short trips easier, something that was a big challenge in the past. They have also made tickets more affordable, giving big companies more incentive to send more than one associate at a time to do business.


And much like any other aspect of the travel industry, when one part grows, the other parts grow around it. In this case, the hotel industry is picking up the pace. As business travel increases, hotel groups are responding to the demand with significant investment taking place across the region to address capacity issues. New hotels are being built closer to airports, and developing, or constructing business centers and conference halls within those hotels has become a top priority for groups like Hilton, Marriott, and NH Hotels.


There is also significant airport expansion in places like Sao Paolo, Panama City, and Santiago, in order to help facilitate and ease new travel volume.


The bottom line in business travel is efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and the overall value of doing business face-to-face. Companies know this. The travel industry knows this. And both are working feverishly to make sure they can meet each other’s expectations, and keep Latin American business travel alive and well for the long haul. While there are still many obstacles to overcome to fully streamline efficient business travel in the region, the work is being done, and the amount of travelers keep increasing. Only time will tell if it’s sustainable, but as of now, the outlook is pretty clear: doing face-to-face business in Latin America is getting easier, and the best has yet to come.


For more great info, updates, and business news throughout the region, check out Latin Target’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedInWhat is Latin Target? Find out at


Why China Needs Latin America

China’s dominance in production is far from breaking news for anyone involved in global business. But with a slowing economy in both Europe and North America, recent overall demand for Chinese goods has become stagnant, and has even dropped substantially over the past two years. That is not the case in Latin America, however, where demand for Chinese goods is steadily growing, and shows no signs of slowing down. Trade numbers are up by nearly 15% across the region, and forecasters are predicting similar growth over the next few years to come.

Latin American Demand Keeps Chinese Trade High, Despite Economy

According to China’s General Administration of Customs, global year-on-year exports dropped from 21.1% in 2011, to 7.3% in 2012. Likewise, China’s foreign trade rate increased by only 5.8% in 2012, a number which makes up only half of their anticipated target rate for the same time period. These low numbers were directly contributed to the European debt crisis, as the European Union is China’s chief trade partner. As a result, China has had to focus on increasing trade in other markets to help bolster the numbers.

The market that has been most successful, as of now, has been Latin America; specifically Chile, Peru, Mexico, and Brazil. In the same time span last year, China increased its foreign trade with the region at a rate of 12-15%. Yang Wanming, the Chinese ambassador to Chile, has called this increase “remarkable”, and with good reason. Chile has had a free trade agreement with China since 2006, and the two countries have a bilateral trade value of USD $34 billion, a figure that’s nearly doubled over the past ten years.

What Do Latin American Markets Have to Offer?

For the most part, Latin America as a whole is a good market economy, and is ideal for trade due to many of its countries’ forecasted growth potential. With Peru, Brazil, and Chile all expecting 4-6% growth in the next five years, it’s important that China and other countries begin to build positive trade relationships now. The purchasing power in the region is at its highest, and the demand for foreign cars, electronics, and consumer goods is surging at an unprecedented rate.

According to Wanming, “Three years ago, we didn’t see any Chinese cars in the streets of Chile. But now, Chinese carmakers hold a 12 per cent share of the market. It’s an amazing exchange, isn’t it?” Likewise, in Brazil, forecasters expect trade value with China to surge as high as USD $80 billion in 2013. The formula, in both cases, is that regional consumer spending power is high enough to merit the steady importation of goods. And with little to no trade restrictions in these countries the potential for foreign imports is seemingly limitless.
The growing Latin American demand for foreign goods and services is a good indication of regional economic development. Mutilatinas and LatAm Multinationals have accelerated this growth, and with it, the demand of the consumer. By expanding homegrown businesses and jobs, these companies have also helped create a great demand. A demand that leads to revenue for foreign companies willing to take on the market in Latin America.

To find out more about the companies making the biggest moves in the region, and to get inside access to their decision makers, take a test drive of Latin Target. We provide instant access to sales and marketing intelligence, to help you develop key relationships with the people and businesses behind these growing economies. Visit to find out more.

Carlos Slim: A Profile of the World’s Richest Man

[SlideDeck id=’1350′ width=’100%’ height=’370px’] carlos-slim-2As an outsider, it would be tough to judge Carlos Slim at first glance. The 73-year-old Mexican man is far from the standard cut of what we expect from a billionaire tycoon. He’s humble in stature, lives in a modest (by billionaire standards) home in Mexico City, and is well known for his weekly family dinners, get-togethers, and his philanthropy. What he’s also known for, however, is being the world’s wealthiest, and most powerful businessman. His empire stretches from cell phones to soccer teams, copper mines to the New York Times – of which he is a part owner.  He’s a widower, an innovator, and a source of pride for both Mexico and Latin America as a whole.

How Slim Got His Start

Carlos Slim Helú was born in 1940 in Mexico City to Lebanese parents. From and early age, he was raised by his father with the skills of basic business and commerce. By the time he had graduated from college, he was already becoming a successful trader, and spent the next 20 years of his life growing his net worth through real estate and sound investments into some of Mexico’s top businesses.

During the 90’s, slim conglomerated his business interests into a group called Grupo Carso. Grupo Carso now runs the majority of his holdings in telecom, technology, retail, and finance. As of 2012, Carlos Slim’s corporate worth is valued at around USD $69 billion, and with Mexico’s economy on the rise, as well as an immense purchasing power, all signs point to this number going up even further in the next decade.

Capitalizing on His Corporate Cunningness

Slim’s most notable successes have been attributed to his dealings in the telecom industry, specifically with Telmex and America Movil. America Movil is now the largest mobile-phone carrier on the continent, and accounts for nearly USD $49 billion of Slim’s corporate holdings. But the Mexican billionaire’s portfolio stretches even further, with major investments into Latin American mining interests, and a large stake in The New York Times, the world’s most valuable and prestigious newspaper.

Most recently, Slim has found success in his café and retail chain, Sanborns. Grupo Sanborns, as the company is called, has just set the price for a stock issue it hopes will generate just under USD $1 billion at 28 pesos per share, expecting it to grow to USD $951 million globally based on early predictions. Sanborns is one of Central America’s largest locally owned chains, and has lofty goals for expanding further into the food services market for 2013 and beyond.

Although Slim is best known for his substantial success in the business world, he is also well known for his vast philanthropic contributions. He has a popular foundation named after him, which has made significant donations to sports, cultural, and quality of life projects in Mexico. One of his best-known projects is the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City, which contains the world’s second-largest collection of Rodin sculptures, as well as well as 66,000 other precious art pieces. The museum is free of charge to enter, and is considered a major cultural aspect of Mexico City and its surroundings.

Whether it’s building a telecommunications empire, founding a museum, or owning a soccer franchise, Carlos Slim Helú has seen nothing but success in his endeavors. His companies continue to grow at a rapid pace, and along with it, the local economies of both Mexico, and Latin America. When he’s all said and done, Slim will be remembered as one of the pioneers of the modern Latin American business model, and one of the big reasons for the regions current and future success.

For more info on Slim’s companies,  take a Test Drive of Latin Target and get access to uptodate information on contacts inside the largest companies in Latin America, such as Telmex, America Movil, and Sanborns.

Nearly Half of Brazilian Mobile Users Have Two or More Devices

The thought of having more than one active cellphone may seem like a stretch to most people, but in many parts of the world, it’s more normal than you think. In fact, in Brazil, Russia, and China, it’s rather commonplace. According to a study by the Nielsen Wire, in Brazil alone, 48% of mobile users own two or more phones.

This is a staggering number when you compare it to a mobile market like the USA, where only 17 percent of mobile subscribers own more than one device. What’s even more surprising, ownership of three or more phones in Brazil is at 15 percent, putting it higher than the US, China, and Russia in that category.

The use of multiple phones is also a growing trend in China, the world’s largest mobile market, where more than one in three mobile subscribers owns multiple phones..

But what’s the impetus for increasing multiple device ownership in these countries? In many cases, it’s just a matter of people keeping their old devices after an upgrade, opting to save the original as a backup. In other cases, people own multiple devices to keep a clear separation between their work and personal life, having one phone for each. There’s even a distinction in what types of phones are used when having one phone for work, and one for play. In places like China and Russia, for example, smartphone owners were more likely to use their handsets for business, whereas most non-smartphone owners had phones for personal use.

A Growing Trend

Another big factor fueling the multi-device trend in these countries is the pre-existing used and refurbished phone market. In Brazil, used and refurbished phones account for nearly 10% of all mobile phone ownership. This number is expected to grow further, as general market expansion will push both the number of new devices, and used/refurbished devices in the next 5 years. Whether it’s 1 phone or 3, mobile adoption is on a steady rise in Brazil, China, and Russia. And with the power of population, plus adaptable marketplace, the sky is the limit for mobile business.

Get access to Brazilian Mobile with Latin Target.

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Mexico Poised to Pass Brazil as LATAM's Most Powerful Economy

Mexico. We’ve all heard of the recent political unrest. We’ve all heard the dark tales of violence, corruption, and a seemingly never-ending drug war. But little has said by the outside world about the country’s successes, growth, and position in the new global economy. Meanwhile, beyond the bad news and political propaganda, Mexico has quietly placed itself at the top of the pack in the region; ready to become the region’s economic leader. With recent success in a variety of industries, a prime geographic location, and a strong, cheap workforce, Mexico is poised to become THE place to do business in Latin America, even giving Brazil a run for their money.

Why Mexico? Why now?

Mexico’s economic success is nothing new to anyone familiar with the North American republic.  Since the birth of NAFTA during the ’90’s, Mexico has been able to leverage free trade with the US and Canada to bolster its trade market, and in turn ramp up production across a number of industries. Automobile production, consumer services, beverage production/distribution, and telecom have been some of the main industries adding to the economic development, and all have great potential for future growth.

A company like America Movil, ranked #5 on the Latin Target  500 list, is not only growing in Mexico, but also as a MultiLatina expanding further afield is holding dominant market shares in many countries outside the region. This is also happening with companies like FEMSA, who controls a significant part of Coca Cola’s distribution and production, and Grupo Bimbo, who has quietly become the world’s biggest baker and distributor of baked goods. With this wave of sustained growth, many economists predict that within the next 10 years, Mexico may be able to pass Brazil as the region’s top economy.

 The World’s Most Energy Secure Nation 

According to an official report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Mexico has long positioned itself as the world’s most energy secure nation. This statistic was measured amongst the 25 largest energy-consuming countries. Although we may just be realizing it now, this has actually been the case for the past 30 years. While this may not necessarily be great for direct investment due to state ownership of Pemex, the country’s larges energy company, it does a lot to help fuel (no pun intended) the local economy. Petroleum and other gas sales represent 40% of the Mexican government’s revenue, thus strengthening government capital, and making it easier for other companies to operate under a stable economic climate.

There are also many residual benefits to this energy dominance, as Pemex works with many companies to help make its operation run smoothly. In recent years, the company has awarded hundreds of millions of dollars worth of development rights to outside businesses, giving private companies long-term contracts. In the first quarter of last year (2012), Pemex reported revenues at USD $10.6 billion, up nearly 30% from the previous year.


The bottom line is that with steady trade and exports (USD $227 billion in 2012), a growing telecom sector, energy stability, and a burgeoning working class, Mexico’s future looks as bright as ever. Industries are growing, investment options are widening, and the world is finally starting to listen. Mexico is poised to become the biggest economy in Latin America, and they are ready for it, one step at a time.

For more insight and access into Mexico’s top companies, including America Movil, FEMSA, and Pemex, take a test drive of Latin Target and find out how Latin Target can enable your sales and marketing teams with contact info on decision makers in the region.

Coca-Cola Invests over US$ 1bn in Chile’s Future

The world’s largest soft-drinks producer aims to make a big investment in
Latin American markets with a USD billion-plus investment strategy in Chile. The Atlanta based beverage giant, whose brand is the world’s most recognizable, has laid out a 5-year plan that will see major development in their distribution strategy, as well as significant investments into sustainability projects. The company has already made progress by building a new $200 million bottling plant for Embotelladora Andina.  Andina made headlines earlier in 2012 by merging with Embotelladora Polar, ranked #374 on the Latin Target 500 list, making it Coca Cola’s second-largest partner in the region.

Coca-Cola has a history as a dominant player in the Latin American market as represented by Fomento Economico Mexicano (FMX), which owns 53.7% of Coca-Cola FEMSA, ranked #61 on the Latin Target 500 and valued at $8,941.7 million. The combined partnership of both FEMSA and FMX makes it the world’s second largest bottler of Coke products; a statistic not lost on the people behind the company’s newest Chilean investment plans. In fact, shares of FEMSA have even exceeded those of the American beverage maker in the past year, making a whopping $14,557.7 million, as compared to Coca-Cola USA, which posted $4,690.0 million over the same time frame.

What are Coca-Cola’s investment goals with Andina?

According to Coca-Cola Andina President Juan Claro:

“This new plant is aligned with the vision we have at Coca-Cola Andina to be a benchmark of sustainability – a very attractive company with sustainable development and innovation. We want to make a difference as a company that cares about providing a quality work environment, cares about the environment, contributes to the country and to the community, and focuses on efficiency in the growth of our production, marketing and logistics.”

Sustainability seems to be the name of the game across the board, and Coca Cola believes that within this sustainability concept, it will not only lead the way in responsible business practices in the region, but turn a healthy profit as well.

Why Chile?

Simple. In the past few years, Chile has transformed itself into a power
ful center for business development and international trade. With limited trade regulations and business development potential ranking amongst the most favorable in Latin America, Chile is a prime location to tackle the regional market, especially in neighboring southern cone states like Argentina and Brazil. With the growth of Andina, as well as Embotelladora Polar, Coca-Cola can vastly expand production in an area that’s already “thirsty” for industrial growth.
Coca-Cola’s $1.3 billion investment into the South American nation is a good sign for other companies looking to invest in there. Stable, sustained growth, something that had long eluded many Latin American nations, appears to be on the horizon for Chile, which is going through their biggest economic boom in decades. And the market for consumer goods in the greater region appears ready to explode, with both the World Cup and Olympics coming to Brazil in the next few years.

For more inside access to Coca-Cola FEMSA and scores of other powerful Latin American businesses, contact us today. At Latin Target, we provide you with access to key decision makers, as well as give you comprehensive lists of the top ranked companies and their executives. For more info, check out our FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn pages, or call us at (312) 265 6538.