International Trade and Ports

Team Florida Prepares For Economic Mission Trip to Panama

Global trade is now, more than ever, at the forefront of Florida’s recovering economy. we cannot deny that global trade is big business in Florida. Global trade means high-wage jobs and economic prosperity for Florida. The Sunshine State is home to more than 60,000 firms dedicated to bringing their goods and services to consumers around the globe. International business and foreign direct investment accounts for approximately 17 percent of Florida’s economic activity, and directly supports more than one million Florida jobs.

Solidifying Florida’s position as a global hub for trade is a key strategic initiative of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Florida has long been an important consumer market and a gateway for trade between the United States and Latin American and Caribbean nations.

With the expansion of the Panama Canal and the Free Trade Agreement, Panama presents Florida companies tremendous opportunities. The Florida Chamber Foundation’s original Trade and Logistics Study (2010), identified the Panama Canal expansion as a seminal moment and called for our state to take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in ports and infrastructure. Governor Rick Scott and the legislature stepped-up with significant investments, and now Florida is poised to have the first port south of Virginia, PortMiami, that can receive the post-Panamax ships that will be coming from Asia through the Canal.

Post-Panamax vessels are nearly three times the size as current vessels being used. Florida’s gateways are better prepared at being able to facilitate the trade relationship between Florida and Panama.

Currently, Panama is one of the strongest economies in Latin America. The country boasts the second fastest growing GDP in the region, expected to reach a 6 percent growth in 2015. Total merchandise trade between Florida and Panama totaled $2.3 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow.

For these reasons, the Florida Chamber of Commerce- lead by Florida Secretary of Commerce Gray Swoope- will be joining partners Port Tampa Bay, Gulf Power, Keiser University, Port Miami, Tampa Hillsborough EDC, Bank of America, St Joe Company, Port Everglades, Tampa International Airport Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad, and Doug Wheeler of Florida Ports Council on an Export Sales Mission to Panama October 5-7.

The widening of the Panama Canal, together with the growth in Latin American and Caribbean markets, will realign global trade lanes and increase flows through this region in the coming decades.

Today the state of Florida is a global hub for trade. It took decades of innovative efforts, resourcefulness and entrepreneurship from the private sector, strategic investments from the public sector and capitalizing on opportunities like free trade agreements and the expansion of the Panama Canal to claim this title.

Florida’s international relationships are invaluable to our economy. By working to create opportunities with nations like Panama, and fueling massive economic development projects like the Panama Canal expansion and the dredging of PortMiami, we can diversify our own economy and fuel long-term investments by global businesses. Everything we do, we do on a global scale.

Florida’s future prosperity and our growth as a global hub for international trade are inextricably linked. In order for Florida to continue on its mission to be a global hub for trade, the business community must unite and policymakers must remain committed to Florida’s trade future. We hope you will save the date for International Days 2015, April 7-9. Contact for more information.

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