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On route to South America

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Chile

The best preparation for long haul travel is exercise and no caffeine or alcohol – particularly so for a full six day schedule visiting three markets in the vast continent of South America. So Sunday was a day of vigorous walking on Hampstead Heath, finishing off "Wolf Hall", the Booker prize winning novel about Thomas Cromwell (Henry VIII's administrator - appealing to me because it suggests that politics and the exercise of power were much the same then as now) and, half an hour before leaving, finally, the packing.

This my first visit to Chile, Peru and Argentina and I am keen to see the business opportunities there for UK firms. But I am also sentimental about the fact that my father was a guru for Argentinian applied scientists in the 60s and 50s. Despite this personal connection, this is the one continent I don't know well. But it also seems to be a part of the world mistakenly ignored by swathes of British exporters. If I can do a bit to change that misperception, the trip will be worthwhile. It is currently difficult to fly directly to these countries from the UK, in part because of the lack of business traffic. But BA have resumed daily flights to from London to Argentina after a 5 year gap, and I hope that this is a sign of a new interest in the business opportunities that lie in these 3 countries for British firms.

As I write this, we are flying over Paraguay. My picture of it is from Graham Greene's novel "Travels with my Aunt". And the Nazi fugitives who went there in the 40s to escape retribution. Best to pass by. And indeed, we no longer have an Embassy there.

In a couple of hours I have to get off the plane and 90 minutes later I will be on my feet speaking to our Commerical Officers on the ground across Latin America. It gives me the opportunity to hear directly about the opportunities and challenges in doing business here. Then a full day with no break until bed at 11pm. Monday sets the pattern for what will be a busy, but hopefully fulfilling week. Stamina is the quality needed above all on these trips.

Descending into Santiago, the most wonderful views of the Andes, notably a perfect sight of Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas. I look forward to discovering more about what UKTI is doing for UK business in this beautiful region.

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