This summer’s newly combined Latin Tyre Expo & Latin Auto Parts Expo in Panama promises to bring enhanced efficiencies to exhibitors and attendees alike.
“Before, when we kept both shows separate, the buyers had to pick which show to go to because they couldn’t travel to both,” says event producer Linda Bassitt, president of the Latin Expo Group.
“You’ll be able to reach buyers from Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean in one place rather than traveling to the individual countries,” she notes, citing the July 24-26 event’s convenient location at Panama’s new ultra-modern Amador Convention Center.
Completed in 2018, the $193-million facility offers spectacular views of the Panama Canal and Panama City skyline. It encompasses 635,000 sq. ft. of display space and can accommodate 25,000 visitors. The previous stand-alone conventions hosted some 200 exhibitors at the tire show and about 300 parts-show exhibitors, and this year more than 600 combined exhibitors are expected to participate. Up to 6,000 attendees are anticipated.
“There is no other show in Latin America that has so many auto parts and tires on display under one roof; for both industries we’ll have separate speaker segments and training programs,” says Bassitt.
Kevin Rohlwing, senior training director at the Tire Industry Association (TIA), considers the show an effective way to reach the major tire manufacturers and suppliers throughout the region. “Anyone who wants to reach that market can benefit by attending,” he adds. “It’s not just tires – it’s everything automotive,” he said.
Panama’s position on the map is especially well-suited for an industry exposition of this scope, Bassitt reports. “Given that it’s in Central America it’s smack dab in the middle” of Latin America’s collection of countries and their respective auto parts and tire markets.
The Tocumen International Airport in Panama City “is considered the ‘Hub of the Americas,’” she says, with 400 flights per day serving 82 destinations in more than 35 nations throughout continental America, Europe and Asia. The airport code is PTY, and expo organizers are offering discounted air fares and hotel rooms.
“We attract buyers from all the different areas and countries, and we advertise in all those countries,” says Bassitt, adding that the parts show is the only event of its type certified by the U.S. Department of Commerce for its ability to facilitate successful trade negotiations. A USA Pavilion dedicated to U.S.-based importers and exporters is among the attractions.
“This show filled a niche for my distribution into the Latin American countries,” according to previous exhibitor Max Douglas at Berryman Products, a Texas-based provider of automotive chemicals and lubricants.
“My experience and take-away impression was that it was very professionally executed and the needs of the vendors around me were all met timely and (they were) satisfied with the results,” he explains. “The show buyer turnout was great. I was personally pleased with the results and leads accumulated for my after-show follow-up.”
“U.S. participation in the Latin American parts and service market is significant, with a market share of more than 40 percent. Demand will also remain strong for U.S.-made car parts and accessories for Japanese models,” says Jeane Zuniga of the U.S. Commercial Service’s office in Panama City. “Good prospects for U.S. exports include engine parts, pumps, filters, batteries, ignition parts, spark plugs, lamps, body parts, brake parts, shock absorbers, tires, exhaust components and used or remanufactured parts, especially for buses, dump trucks and other commercial vehicles.”
“When looking at Latin America, it is advisable to look at the countries in the region individually. The region has great diversity due to the economics and political situations in specific countries,” reports Ben Brucato, senior director of membership, sponsorship programs and member services at the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) and its Overseas Automotive Council (OAC) export division.
He tells Aftermarket Business World that “one of the top benefits of OAC membership is the opportunities for members to regularly exchange information on the latest trends and developments in global markets.”
Per Brucato, some recent member observations about business conditions in Latin America include:
- Overall, Latin American markets have been areas for aftermarket growth. However, the Mexican market has been flat in 2018.
- The Puerto Rican market is coming back after the devastating storms in 2017 and is now steadily growing.
- Nicaragua is terrible and going through a meltdown.
- The boom in Panama is slowing down.
- Mexican products are becoming very competitive because of the exchange rates. Wholesalers that usually import products are now buying locally.
- Business is struggling this year in El Salvador and there are high concerns about Mexico.
Supplier members also have shared with AASA and OAC some of the current challenges they face in Latin America:
- Trade agreements are restricting business.
- Counterfeit parts in some countries are diluting and destroying quality brands.
- Low cost products coming from overseas are penetrating certain markets.
- Exchange rates vary widely, helping in some markets while hindering in others.
- The region overall suffers from fractured and unorganized buying groups.
- Political unrest, economic uncertainties and corruption are prevalent to some countries.
On Feb. 8 in Coral Gables, Fla., OAC will be presenting an AASA Global Summit featuring John Price, managing director of Americas Market Intelligence, addressing the topic of “Currency Risks & Political/Economical state of Latin America.” Additionally, Miguel Garcia, general manager for Latin America at Federal-Mogul Motorparts, will lead a discussion among a panel of top suppliers on “Growth Strategies in Latin America – Challenges & Opportunities for Aftermarket Suppliers.”
“One of the promising, but overlooked regions for U.S. automotive aftermarket parts exports is Latin America, particularly Peru, Guatemala and El Salvador,” says Kellie Holloway, senior international trade specialist and deputy team leader of the U.S. Commercial Service’s Global Automotive Team.
“Demand for aftermarket auto parts and repair services in these three markets is increased due to aging vehicles – averaging 15.5 years for private and 22.5 years for commercial vehicles,” she elaborates. “In addition, there is a high level of used-car sales and deteriorating road conditions. U.S. market share for auto parts in Guatemala is 31 percent, in El Salvador it is 26 percent, and U.S. companies have a 19 percent share of the Peruvian market.”
U.S. auto parts exports over the past five years grew 87 percent in Peru, 19 percent in Guatemala and 50 percent in El Salvador, according to Holloway.
For details about booth reservations and information about the upcoming show, visit www.latinpartsexpo.com.
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