Port Everglades hosts Colombian Delegation

Making Connections in Advance of the Free Trade Agreement

On the heels of Sunday's announcement that the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia will go into effect in May, Port Everglades and  the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport hosted a delegation of public officials from Colombia to discuss international trade and visit Broward County's seaport. Port Everglades is the top seaport in Florida for trade with Colombia, which totaled more than $1 billion in FY 2011, representing 54 percent of Colombian trade through all of Florida's seaports last year.

This trade mission coincided with the announcement on Sunday by President Barack Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos that the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement will enter into force on May 15, 2012. The agreement will expand exports of U.S. goods by more than $1.1 billion and provide duty-free access for U.S. goods in sectors from manufacturing to agriculture. The Agreement supports the President's National Export Initiative goal of doubling of U.S. exports over five years. It will also enhance the competitiveness of both small and large U.S. businesses in Colombia's growing economy.

The delegation was on a trade mission from Colombia and included Sandra Paola Hurtado, Governor of Quindío, Colombia; Luz Piedad Valencia Franco, Mayor or Armenia, Colombia; Guido Echeverry Piedrahita, Governor of Caldas, Colombia; and John Edgar Perez-Rojas, Mayor of Quimbaya, Colombia. Also joining was Fernando Escobar, President of International Trading Center in Miami, and Fabio Andrade, President and CEO of the Americas Community Center Inc. in Weston, Florida.

Colombian delegation

Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca presented the business leaders with "Keys to the County" for their official visit.

"We're always happy to host such events, especially if these events bond the connection we already have, as we do with Colombia, one of Florida's top Latin American trading partners," said Commissioner LaMarca. "Port Everglades holds the distinction of being the top in Florida for trade with Colombia. The Airport's fourth largest international market is Colombia."

The delegation was scheduled for other stops as part of the Mission's itinerary in South Florida and was pleased to have a well-rounded agenda that included both ports and airports.

"It's very important that relationships could be built, not only with the federal government but also at the local and regional levels," said Fabio Andrade, President and CEO of the Americas Community Center Inc. "It is a great opportunity to network and to build relationships with Port Everglades, the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and these regions in Colombia now that the Free Trade Agreement has been signed."

As one of South Florida's leading economic powerhouses, Port Everglades is the gateway for international trade and cruise vacations. Already the second busiest cruise port in the world, Port Everglades is also one of the nation's leading container ports. Port Everglades is also South Florida's main seaport for receiving petroleum products including gasoline, jet fuel and alternative fuels. The Port Everglades Department is a self-supporting Enterprise Fund of Broward County government with operating revenues of approximately $139 million in Fiscal Year 2011 (October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011). It does not rely on local tax dollars for operations. The total value of economic activity at Port Everglades is approximately $15.3 billion annually. More than 160,000 Florida jobs are impacted by the Port, including over 11,300 people who work for companies that provide direct services to Port Everglades. More information on Port Everglades, which is governed by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, is available on the Internet at http://www.porteverglades.net/  or e-mailing PortEverglades@broward.org.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is one of the fastest growing airports in the country. In 2011, FLL transported over 23 million passengers and ranked 21st in the U.S. in total passenger traffic. With over 600 flights a day, FLL offers non-stop service to more than 100 domestic and international destinations including Canada, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico, Latin American, and Europe. Strategically located in the heart of the South Florida region, FLL is one of the economic engines that drive Broward County, provides 37,000 jobs and generates $2.7 billion annually for the local economy. More information on FLL, which is governed by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners, is available on the Internet at http://www.broward.org/airport/Pages/Default.aspx.