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The number of British small businesses exporting to South America has almost doubled in the last five years, according to new figures.

Despite slow economic growth in the region, 19% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK say they have exported to South America this year, up from just 11% in 2011.

The top countries Britain exported to were Brazil (13%), Chile (8%), Argentina (7%) and Colombia (6%).

Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: “Small firms clearly have a growing appetite for trade with South America.”

“We know the number of small businesses exporting to the continent has almost doubled in the past five years. This is particularly promising in light of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.”

“We encourage small companies to consider all exporting options, near and further afield, to maximise the benefits of selling overseas.”

The UK exported £7 billion in goods and services to South America last year, falling from a peak of £8.8 billion in 2013.

In hopes to strengthen relations with the continent, the UK government launched the first trade mission in 10 years to Argentina earlier this year, and after the result of the referendum, UK trade minister Lord Price emphasised to Brazilian investors that Britain was “open for business”.

The government is also pushing to capitalise from the Rio Olympic Games and contracts have already been won by 40 UK companies in excess of £150 million to supply good and services during this year’s Games.

The export push within Latin America may not come at the greatest time though, as Brazil continues to be mired in a deep recession, with growth declining by 3.8% due to economic and political issues.

Argentina, however, may be on the verge of a more rapid growth as the new reformist government has come to an agreement over its debt to overseas investors.

UK companies exporting to Columbia and Chile could benefit greatly after a stronger growth in both countries, although Chile’s growth expected to slow this year to 1.5%.

However, according to the International Monetary Fund, the region as a whole is expected to bounce back to a steady growth in 2017.

Last week, it was found that the UK remains the largest single investor in the US, contributing $76 billion more than the next largest investor, Japan.

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