Mainly, the region accommodates more than 390 million people and has a trade value of $897 billion and a GDP estimated at $3,739 billion. Brazil is leading as the largest country with a population up to 209 million and generating more than 42% of trade, 55% of GDP and 43% of South America’s 22 million TEU throughput.

In addition, Colombia, as having the largest economy, accommodates 49 million people, generating 8.4% of total GDP. YEt, it is Chile that has the greater container throughput at 20%.


  • Exports

South America's exports are in their majority agricultural-based; Meat and chicken from the east coast and fruit from the west coast. South America is responsible for the 16% of worldwide perishable exports.

  • Imports

Imports include consumer goods, equipment and machinery of various types and petroleum products.

Between 2013 and 2017, South America’s merchandise trade, by value, shrank some $222 billion, or 20%, to $897 billion. The main damage was done in 2015 when the value of trade dropped by 19%. Compound annual growth rate over the whole period reviewed was down by 5%.

  • Port Throughput

Port Callao, in Peru experienced the highest container throughput on the west coast, Santos, Brazil on the east coast.

The report focuses on Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, as well as two landlocked countries: Bolivia and Paraguay.

Port container handling of more than 50 South America ports studied reached 22 million TEU in 2017, representing a development 6.4% in comparison to 2017.

The report suggests that many are the private operators in the area that are active, such as APM Terminals and Chile-based SAAM both have interests in six facilities each. Other operators with interests in the region include DP World, ICTSI, TIL (MSC) and regional company Ultramar.

  • Carriers

Dynamar's report notes 47 container liner services that offer direct connections with South America with a fleet of some 341 vessels at an average of 6,500 TEU per ship.

In terms of capacity, the leader is the Far East trade lane with Europe and North America following.

These liner services cooperate with 38 South American ports. Specifically, 21 are located on the east coast and 17 on the west coast.

Moreover, the two largest carriers in the South America deepsea trades are Maersk Line and MSC, respectively.

They both control the 49% of the yearly trade capacity.

The 23 vessel liner carriers active on the trades serving South America own 341 ships with a total carrying capacity of 2.2 million TEU.

They connect South America with 77 ports in the Far East, Europe, North and Central America and Africa. Among the ships are 51 ultra-large container ships ranging from 10,000 to 13,000 TEU.

  • Trade Treaty 

All four east coast countries are members of the regional Mercosur/ Mercosul common market. This is a free-trading zone established by the 1991 Treaty of Asunción among Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Bolivia will become the next full member. Elsewhere Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guyana and Suriname are associate members. Venezuela is currently suspended from the organization.