Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Six Secrets of Success

A handful of Latin American companies have emerged as global business leaders. Here’s how.

A business executive in new york wakes up on a hotel bed made by Artefama (Brazil), takes a shower in a bathroom outfitted by the Grupo Industrial Saltillo (Mexico), dons a designer suit made by Confecciones Colombia (Colombia), drives to the airport in a car full of Nemak (Mexico) auto parts, and boards an Embraer regional jet (Brazil) for Washington. Our busy New York-Washington traveler would in all likelihood be surprised to learn how many manufactured Latin American products support an ordinary business trip in the U.S. 

And he or she would not be alone. Most North Americans think of the southern hemisphere simply as an exporter of bulk commodities like sugar, bananas, coffee, and copper. 

Until recently, that stereotype has been true. Latin American manufacturers traditionally preferred the comfort and security of their protected domestic markets to the risks and rewards of international competition. As a result, North American consumers have had little exposure to Latin American manufactured goods. 

But the region’s free-market reforms have begun to draw Latin American manufacturers out of their protective shells.

It is still a work in progress. Although globalization allegedly abolishes the barriers between domestic and foreign markets, its effects in the hemisphere have been ambivalent at best. After all, many Latin American manufacturers have encountered more failure than success when they venture onto world markets. Even giants like Mexico’s Synkro (textiles), Colombia’s Bavaria (beer), and Argentina’s Bunge & Born (agribusiness) have been tempted—if not necessarily forced—to default on their debts, cede control of their assets, or move their headquarters to more stable and prosperous foreign countries…


Tags: Andrew Schrank, Globalization in Latin America, Latin American multinationals, Six Secrets of Success
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