U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross traveled to Brazil, Argentina and Peru last week to discuss trade and market access and identify ways to strengthen America’s economic relationship with these crucial partners. As the administration continues its engagement with these countries, travel—America’s second-largest industry export—should be top-of-mind.
Visitors from Brazil, Argentina and Peru make significant contributions to the U.S. economy and help lower America’s overall trade deficit. The trio accounts for nearly 9% of all overseas visitations to the U.S., and travel from these three countries generated a trade surplus of $15 billion in 2017.
While overall overseas arrivals to the U.S. increased just 2.5% in 2018, combined arrivals from Brazil, Argentina and Peru increased 9% last year. At a time when international inbound travel to the U.S. is lagging travel growth worldwide, these South American markets continue to grow and present a number of economic opportunities
In 2018, more than 2.2 million Brazilians visited the United States, making it the sixth-largest international inbound market to the U.S.—jumping from ninth place just 15 years earlier. Travel exports to Brazil totaled nearly $11.5 billion in 2017, creating an impressive trade surplus of nearly $10.8 billion.
In March, President Trump and Brazilian President Bolsonaro discussed taking the steps to enable Brazil to participate in the Global Entry program—a move that would allow this robust, growing market to expand even further. And as of June 17, Americans traveling to Brazil will no longer need a visa, which is a crucial early step in Brazil’s efforts to join the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
Argentina lost its VWP status in 2002 during its financial crisis but has since been regaining stability.
Eligibility for Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program was expanded to Argentinians in 2017, allowing for safer, more efficient travel. In the same year Global Entry was introduced, Argentinian visitation to the U.S. was at its highest in a decade with more than one million visitors. U.S. travel exports to Argentina totaled $4.9 billion in 2017, creating a trade surplus of nearly $4.3 billion.
This small country has been making huge strides in recent years. Visitations to the U.S. almost doubled between 2009 and 2018, surging from 160,000 in 2009 to more than 300,000 in 2018. U.S. travel exports to Peru totaled $1.2 billion in 2017, creating a $284 million trade surplus.
U.S. Travel commends the Commerce Department for recognizing the opportunities these countries present, and encourages the administration to continue its outreach in these valuable, growing markets.