The mayor along with city officials, business leaders, airport and port executives left Los Angeles Saturday and headed to their first stop on the trip, Santiago, Chile.
From there, the group will head to Brazil and make stops in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Sao Paulo before going to Bogota, Colombia.
An aide says the trip to Chile, Brazil, and Colombia is necessary to compete with other states and countries seeking to trade in South America. It's also part of an effort to market the expansion and renovation of the port of Los Angeles. The port is renovating terminals and deepening the main channel to allow for larger ships.
"The future of Los Angeles is tied closely to our neighbors in South America. As we strengthen and build our local economy, we must leverage our assets in this global marketplace to create jobs here in Los Angeles," Villaraigosa said. "With two previous trade missions, we worked to develop strong economic ties with Asia. Now, we're going to strengthen our relationships in South America to increase investment, trade, and tourism in L.A."
Villaraigosa's trip will be the first trip by a Los Angeles mayor to South America since 1985.
CNS contributed to this report.