Government and business officials will try to make deals for Florida exports.
By Eric Kulisch
Representatives from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development arm, are on a trade mission this week to Peru to market Florida products.
Florida exported $2.8 billion worth of goods to the South American nation last year and new Enterprise Florida CEO Bill Johnson said the trip gives Florida companies the opportunity to meet current and future trading partners.
Gov. Rick Scott has identified trade, logistics and export-oriented manufacturing as strategic advantages and along with the legislature has invested in ports and programs to capitalize on them. About 17 percent of Florida’s economic activity and more than 1 million jobs are tied to international business and foreign direct investment, according to research by the Florida Chamber Foundation.
Peru has more than 30 million people, a strong economy that has grown at 5 percent for 15 consecutive years, and currently imports from Florida companies products such as industrial and electric machinery, fertilizers, vehicles, civilian aircraft and medical instruments.
Peru’s importance as a trading partner has grown in recent years since it became a founding member of the Pacific Alliance, which includes Mexico, Chile and Colombia. Together, the four nations represent about 37 percent of Latin America’s GDP and all have free trade agreements with the United States.
During the mission, the Florida Chamber and the Lima Chamber of Commerce will sign a memorandum of understanding to help promote trade and investment opportunities between Peru and Florida.
Although the focus of the trip is exports, participants such as Port Everglades and Miami-based trade attorney Lee Sandler will also spend time promoting South Florida as an import gateway for Peruvian grapes and citrus, according to Alice Ancona, director of global outreach for the Florida Chamber.
The U.S. Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection last year gave approval for the direct import of grapes from Peru after a trial project successfully demonstrated how logistics providers would use cold treatment techniques to prevent the introduction of fruit flies into South Florida. Previously grapes were required to be shipped to ports north of Baltimore where temperatures are cold enough to kill any fruit flies that avoid extermination and escape into the environment. Importing directly into Florida can save thousands of dollars in transportation costs per shipment and increase shelf life because the grapes don’t have to be trucked back for sale in Florida.
In January, APHIS and CBP began a pilot project on treating citrus from Peru.