Crist: I'm Committed to Expanding International Trade

MIAMI – Governor Charlie Crist on Friday joined hundreds of executives and elected officials from Latin America and the Caribbean to discuss partnerships with the neighboring countries in areas of international trade, alternative energy and environmental preservation. Speaking at the Miami Herald Americas Conference, Crist welcomed the Latin American and Caribbean representatives to Florida and urged them to continue collaborating with the Sunshine State on innovative endeavors.

“Florida truly is the ‘Gateway of the Americas,’ with a rich culture and history that are defined by our long-standing relations with our neighbors across the hemisphere,” Crist said. “My administration is committed to expanding commerce and other partnerships with these countries, because the economic and environmental benefits are mutually beneficial.”

Florida trade with the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean is more than $64 billion annually, representing 56 percent of Florida’s total world trade. Latin American and Caribbean countries have invested more than $3.4 billion in Florida, and they employ more than 21,000 Floridians. Trade agreements between the United States and Chile and the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala have benefited the Sunshine State by increasing Florida trade more than $2.8 billion. Pending agreements with Peru, Panama and Colombia could bring Florida even greater benefits, through increased market access, lowered prices and new jobs.

Crist has led Florida business representatives on three trade missions, including one in November 2007 to Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Brazil is Florida’s number-one international merchandise trade partner, with two-way trade valued at $13 billion in 2007, a nearly 15-percent increase over 2006. Brazil ranks first in total exports from Florida, valued at roughly $8 billion, with nearly half of those goods originating in Florida.

In May, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer announced it will invest more than $50 million to establish new manufacturing facilities at the Melbourne Airport. The state-of-the-art factory, at 149,500 square feet, will be Embraer’s first in the United States and will employ 200 people. Florida is also working with officials in Brazil, where there has been much success with ethanol and biofuels, as part of Crist’s commitment to develop alternative energy sources. Also, renewable Fuels of Tallahassee LLC has signed a $182-million agreement with Controlsud International Group to convert municipal solid waste into clean energy.

“Floridians are already seeing the benefits of our relationships with our Latin American and Caribbean neighbors, and I am confident there is more to come,” said Crist. “These innovations will ensure the prosperity of Florida and our international neighbors.”

About the Americas Conference

The Americas Conference is a business and political forum on Latin America and the Caribbean, hosting hundreds of international executives and elected officials.

The theme of the two-day conference is ”New Leadership—New Focus: Good Governance and Economic Development in the Hemisphere.”

Top leaders are examining the hemisphere’s challenges, from upcoming elections and energy to free trade, and how the region will address these challenges.

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