Writer: Sara Suarez
2 min read December 2021 — South Florida’s relationship with Latin America is becoming increasingly crucial as national and international trends continue to disrupt the economy. Broward County and the Greater Fort Lauderdale region, graced by an advantageous location, could potentially reap broad benefits from a post-COVID economic diversification.
According to Gartner, “trade disruptions and the COVID-19 pandemic are prompting economies to dial back on global integration and focus on themselves and their neighbors.” The disruption caused Latin America, due to its proximity to the United States, to shine again after decades of taking a back seat to Asia.
The pandemic forced a change in mindset amid supply disruptions that continue to hinder the marketplace, turning companies onto the idea of nearshoring.
For its part, Latin America has massive advantages in transportation and many cultural similarities. Central and South America are the closest clusters of countries to the United States. “It takes a cargo container over 28 days to reach a port of entry in the U.S. from Asia but only 11 hours to a few days by truck from Mexico and most countries in Latin America,” according to USA Exporter. A post-COVID era focusing on diversification of imports is a significant boost to Florida’s economy as well.
Florida already is the No. 1 state for exporting merchandise to Latin America and the Caribbean by air while its seaports ship more than 40% of all U.S. container-based exports to Latin America and the Caribbean. “South Florida’s total trade with the world in 2020 was $98.2 billion in goods sourced in the state, and more than 60,000 companies in the region are registered to export. Now is the time for Broward businesses to move to the next level. Broward County is perfectly positioned to bring new global businesses to the region,” Paola Isaac Baraya, 6th Annual Florida International Trade and Cultural Expo (FITCE) Event Director and Broward County Economic Development Specialist for International Trade, told Invest:.
Florida’s infrastructure is ready for the challenge and the spotlight, but several questions remain. Is the Latin American industry prepared for the demand? Are the structures in place sufficient?
Those were among the questions on the minds of FITCE participants. The event on Nov. 17-18 attracted representatives from over 60 countries to discuss investment and trade opportunities with Broward County.
Broward County made the goal of the event to “expand Broward County as the premier importing and exporting trading capital while helping to establish new businesses and nurture existing businesses to spur continued growth,” as quoted on their website.