Almost every day, prominent Brexiteer politicians and commentators tell the British people that the UK will be better off outside of the EU. They are told that despite the possibility of a short-term slump, Britain will emerge more prosperous in the long run when it has the ability to make its own trade decisions. But if the government is to deliver on this promise, it needs to make a quick and successful start so that it retains the confidence of the British people. Otherwise calls for a reversion to customs union may become difficult to resist.

The UK should thus be wary of prioritising early trade deals with only the world’s strongest economies, such as the East Asian tigers, or the fastest developing markets, like Indonesia. It is true that the UK already does a lot of business in that part of the world, and their growth prospects are staggering, but there is no reason to think a trade deal would take fewer than ten years.

If quick, meaningful delivery is the objective, then Latin America should be the first port of call. It is a continent with promising economic forecasts, a fast-expanding middle class, and most importantly it continues to demonstrate a willingness to work on free trade agreements with Europeans.

Mercosur, the trading bloc of nations including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, is edging ever closer to an FTA with the European Union. It had its final round of negotiations last month and leaked documents show that almost all previous hitches have now been resolved. The mere existence of Mercosur is proof of a Latin American confidence in the long-term benefits of free trade. Further north, Mexico and the EU have just finalized a similar agreement allowing almost tariff-free trade between the two economic powers. When deciding where to concentrate its resources, UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox should be pragmatic and focus on the relatively low hanging fruit. Latin America has consistently shown its openness to the principles of free trade, particularly with Europe. The UK would be wise to build momentum for Global Britain before it starts chasing the most ambitious deals with much larger partners.

Free trade with Latin America would be material, too. The continent is up on last year’s growth by 0.7%, and then another 0.8% in 2019. Countries such as Panama and the Dominican Republic will grow around 5% this year. The World Bank similarly predicts that in 2019, every economy in the region will experience real GDP growth, with 22 of 27 achieving over 2%. British and Latin American economies are also highly complementary – Latin American countries import upwards of £5bn of UK products a year. Specifically, there is a large market for Britain’s chemical products and machinery, making up the two largest exports to Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, the four biggest economies on the continent. Similarly, the UK imports tonnes of fresh fruits and other agricultural produce it does not have the climate to grow. The two regions’ needs are well suited to the other’s economy.

British exporters are also especially excited by forecasts for the consumer market in South and Central America. Poverty continues to diminish, and the middle class is expanding rapidly. In the period between 1996 and 2014, the Latin American middle classes grew a massive 17%. This, when combined with an equivalent population growth, produces a significant increase in the number of consumers potentially purchasing British products. Britain would do well to position itself on the end of this already growing demand.

The UK should think of Global Britain as a project rather than a status; it is a campaign to reconnect British commerce to the four corners of the world. It makes strategic sense to begin with the most readily available trade opportunities and then leverage the confidence and expertise accumulated with each one as it works towards the gold-standard deals, such as with China. Remember that the UK has not negotiated trade deals for decades, it would be wise to get back to full fitness before squaring up against the world’s most formidable opponents. With this in mind, Latin America offers by far the most compelling short-term prospect.

 Leonardo González Dellán is a Venezuelan entrepreneur