November 23rd, 2011
05:04 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) - Global economic uncertainty is bringing some good news for U.S. exporters, as traders in Latin America have seen a reduction in buys from China in favor of closer-to-home suppliers.

"There are signals of an economic slowdown," Mario Nigrinis, Principal Economist at BBVA Bank Hong Kong told CNN, "we expect a slight deceleration."

Mexico, the largest Latin American importers of Chinese goods with US$46 billion in 2010, has seen purchase growth rates diminish, from 20.5% year-on-year in the first half of 2011, to 18.5% in the third quarter, to 13% in August, according to data compiled by BBVA.

Brazil followed a similar path, with growth rates contracting from 37% in the first half of this year to 26% in the third quarter.

A Guangzhou-based businesswoman saw a decline in her trade from China this year. "We see a 20% reduction," Angélica Villegas Botero, Managing Director of Investment Logistics Company, told CNN.

Villegas compared her usual 150 containers a year, with an estimated 130 for 2011.

Her core business is exporting shoes and apparel from Asia, mainly China, to her native Colombia. She also has operations throughout Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina.

A Latin American shipper is seeing a similar drop. "We usually expect increased Christmas shipments around mid-July," Sebastián Santa Cruz, Director of the Chilean shipping company CCNI-Agunsa in Hong Kong, said.

While containers cross the Pacific from Chile laden with copper to meet burgeoning Chinese demand, they will more likely return empty when once had textiles, footwear and consumer electronics.

But this year's peak shipping season from Asia to Latin America was only an unfulfilled promise. "We've seen our business decline," Santa Cruz said.

Over half of CCNI-Agunsa's business is shipping copper from the world's largest exporter, Chile, to China. While the reference price for this metal slid around 20% since the beginning of the year, the shipper still sees growth.

Why? It appears Latin America is re-aiming north.

"I believe that the ups and downs in the economy, like the European debt crisis and weak demand in the U.S. have hit investors, importers," Santa Cruz told CNN. "They are taking less risk, not increasing inventories [in Latin America] and just-in-time supplies become more relevant."

Villegas agreed. Many of her clients preferred to pay for small air shipments delivered in a few days only, instead of going through the months-long process of procuring, shipping and processing full container loads from China.

When purchases have to be fast and low-risk, closer suppliers become more relevant.

Villegas said the U.S., Brazil and Mexico are stepping in to supply Latin American retailers during this slowdown in purchases from China.

So this year's Christmas gifts in the region may, after a long break, be made in the U.S. again.

Follow CNN Español's Diego Laje on Twitter: @dlajeworld


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Filed under: BusinessChinaHong Kong


soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. LionOfNarnia

    Good, China sucks.

    November 23, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  2. ruizsainz

    I still don't understand how a single country (China) can make everything the entire world needs, uses and consumes. Everything I buy says "Made in China".

    November 23, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  3. consumerofstuff

    It is because a lot of what says "Made in China" was actually only assembled in China or packaged in China. China is the final point for a lot of products that were actually made elsewhere.

    November 23, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  4. bobbyi

    we chinese work very hard but earn little, we sustain too heavy tax, but llttle social welfare,that's not fair , if you want to know more about china , please add my msn id :bobbyi_hust@hotmail.com

    November 23, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  5. James

    China has many good points but far more bad points. Most countries are now learning the hard way that is; but they realize the must produce products within their own borders. even at a higher cost the offset of domestic production solves many issues. You may not be able to produce a 100% but a balance is required.

    November 23, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  6. Value added what?

    Also the higher the shipping diesel costs as a share of the imported product price, the greater the incentive to source from closer by. This particulalry applies to low value density goods like furniture.

    November 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  7. José Henrique

    I read an article about it in Folha de Sao Paulo (brazilian newspaper). The text brought some information about the speech of the american politicians for the presidential election. It seems that South America is as distant as another planet. It´s not a problem with the continent, but with the American policy, focused only in oil and terrorism.

    In my opinion, Latin America must be free of any influence. The continent is vigorous in economy , and there´s democracy in almost all the countries. I don´t know why we should follow both China and USA.

    Latin America seems a real block, culturally and economically. USA and Canada aren´t a part of this block. They don´t have the same history, nor the same problems and goals.

    While USA is worried about oil and war, Latin America is fighting to improve the quality of life of its people, and to improve its infrastructure and environment. The goals are completely divergent.

    November 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  8. tenzin

    Its always good to buy things which are made locally instead of buying which is made thousands of miles. We are living in very delicate planet called earth. Save energy. consume less.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  9. DeeNYC

    isn't the whole world buying less?

    November 23, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  10. danli

    Can any gov bring up 1.37 billion people without any mistakes?

    We chinese work hard to make our life better and provide sucn cheap goods and we want to keep friendly with any people from any country,i don't know why someone would use such impolite words like 'Cina sucks'??

    Befor we say something bad to a people or a thing,learn about it first,thanks.

    I am a chinese and i love my country.

    November 24, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  11. Foosa

    Well, the reason china and India flourished is because they kind of stole the jobs from the locals. They were cheap (low quality) but when locals lost their jobs, they can't buy anymore. Then the US government controlled by the Federal Reserve (A private bank) ripped off its people and the IRS taxed them further and all the money went to wars creating further unrest in the world. Isn't it time to bear the fruits of our excellent work?

    November 24, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  12. Paulo

    USA disturbing the peace of Latin American again? No, thanks.

    November 24, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  13. Bobo

    Good news for USA. You can now export more chopsticks to Latin America. Bravo !

    November 24, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  14. Ferd of Aragon

    This is due to atheism. No prayers no sales! On the other hand God is answering America's prayers.

    November 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  15. Un4given

    In Latin America we prefer USA (High Standards) products over China ones, which are very cheap and with crappy quality.... I really hate "made in China" stuff....I even prefer "made in Mexico" or "Brazil"

    November 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  16. ELnene33

    Well, thanks but, not thanks, now We rule our land, We don´t
    want to know of USA tilted polycies an rigged games, neither
    so of trash from China.

    November 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  17. Paul

    Latin America will always be the backyard of the US.

    November 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  18. OregonTom

    Boycott China please. I know it is hard but they are the enemy.

    November 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  19. Super México

    We dont want more China or USA trash, we want local products. We need jobs.

    November 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  20. ELnene33

    hehhehe PAUL come on boy, talking of backyards..., the US citizens became
    in less than 10 years the backyard tenants hehehehehe nobody wants to see
    then anywhere arround heheehehh

    November 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  21. ELnene33

    Bueno nenes de la gran Latioamerica se habran dado cuenta que llego la hora
    de dejar de tomar TETERO, quieran sus tierras y respeten sus gentes, el progreso
    es el FUTURO ...

    November 24, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  22. José

    Aumentou o protecionismo aqui no Brasil, THat's the point. Nunca antes na história do brasil ocorreram tantos gastos com compras pela internet na china. Porém, nos ultimos meses ocorreram aumento de impostos com gastos no cartão de crédito de todo cidadão brasileiro, tenho noticias de amigos na china que estão tendo problemas com mercadorias paradas na agencia dos correios para fiscalização na alfandega a meses, mercadorias que retornam sem explicação ou impostos abusivos em mercadorias que custam menos de 50 dolares e o consumidor brasileiro acaba não comprando mais nenhuma bugiganga da china, pois qualquer mercadoria chega com 150 reais de imposto e logicamente não vale a pena.

    November 24, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  23. EA Marco Polo

    from 20.5% year-on-year in the first half of 2011, to 18.5% in the third quarter, to 13% in August
    -----------–

    The trade between Latin America and China (Mainland China + ROC Taiwan + Hong Kong) is still expanding – "fast".

    The growth rate declines, however 13% growth is still very good.

    Spanish and Portuguese should be reinforced in Chinese universities; Latin America's universities should add classes on Mandarin Chinese. In 2019, China should become the largest importer on the earth, in 2029 China's export should be double than the US's.

    November 24, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  24. Paulo

    I´d reather MADE IN LATIN AMERICA

    November 25, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  25. Ro

    OregonTom I Agree with you 100%, Stop buying Chinese goods.

    December 16, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  26. LATINAMERICAN JOBS

    The problem is about the low wages the chine employers earns , they dont have Union , their cgoverment does not permit UNIOn, we have Unions in latin america and inthe USA and Canada , they protect our salary, In China the goverment pay low salaries, the handle every fact in the economy, they are no free workers they must obey to the coverment slavery , the other problem are The USA and European economy they make China a big producer of goods loacating the US an EU factories in China , the buy everything from CHina but China dont buy from them CHina ONLY BY RAW MATERIAL TO TRANSFORM THEM IN VALUE ADDED PRODUCTS TO SELL TO WHOLE WORLD , THEY (Usa and Europa) FORGOT LATINAMERICAN COUNTRIES TO LOCATED THEIR FACTORIES we are closer , we more friendly we nevwr fight a battle against USA AND EU, we have many democratic countries , China is not a comunist country it has two systems , one Goverment Capitalism and one COMUNIST PARTY to get the power to rule the country under comunist laws. IT IS NO FAIR for the latinoamerican countries

    December 19, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  27. LATINAMERICAN JOBS

    The problem is about the low wages the China employers earns , they dont have Unions , their goverment does not permit UNIONS, we have Unions in latin america and in the USA and Canada , they(unions) protect our salary, In China the goverment pay low salaries, the handle every aspects in the economy, they are no free workers they must obey to the goverment slavery , the other problem are The USA and European economy they make China a big producer of goods locating the US an EU factories in China , the buy everything from CHina but China dont buy from them
    CHina ONLY BUY RAW MATERIAL TO TRANSFORM THEM IN VALUE ADDED PRODUCTS TO SELL TO WHOLE WORLD , THEY (Usa and Europa) FORGOT LATINAMERICAN COUNTRIES TO LOCATED THEIR FACTORIES HERE we are closer , we more friendly we never fight a battle against USA or EU, we have many democratic countries , China is not a comunist country it has two systems , one Goverment Capitalism for their products selleing and economy and one COMUNIST PARTY to get the power to rule the country under comunist laws. IT IS NO FAIR for the latinoamerican countries

    December 19, 2011 at 2:23 am |

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