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Politics threaten Florida trade development

TALAHASSEE, FL: February 14, 2017. Enterprise Florida (EFI), a public-private partnership between business leaders and state government to promote economic development and foreign direct investment (FDI) in the state, is threatened with extinction.

Following the introduction of a bill by Florida House of Representatives' Speaker Republican Richard Corcoran to eliminate the state's main economic development agencies, the House Careers and Competition Subcommittee has passed the bill 10 votes to 5 to cut all funding.

Florida governor Rick Scott, also a Republican, said he opposed the bill noting the agency's goal is to bring more jobs to Florida and diversify the state's industries.

In 2015 Florida's total merchandise trade (exports plus imports) reached US$147.4 billion as the state continued to have the highest trade surplus nationwide.

International trade and FDI accounted for about one-sixth of Florida's economic output in 2016 and supported an estimated one million jobs. The state ranked 6th in the nation in FDI and first in the Southeast.

Qatar Cargo MIA launchAccording to a representative of World Trade Center Miami, Enterprise Florida has been successful in developing trade programs that help thousands of small and medium-sized Florida companies each year, including one-on-one export counseling; education and training programs; overseas trade shows and trade missions; and export diversification and expansion trade grants.

Scott responded to the subcommittee move on Twitter saying: "Politicians turned their back on jobs today by supporting job killing legislation." He went on to accuse Speaker Corcoran of putting a bid to become Florida's next governor ahead of the state's economic growth.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has added its voice to the controversy saying it believes the state must continue to fund initiatives that support diversifying the economy and attracting visitors and businesses.

"The approved committee bill sends a signal that Florida's state legislature is no longer an active partner in‎ job creation, diversifying our economy, ‎or supporting our important tourism sector," it declared.

EFI said if the state was a country it would be the world's 18th largest with a GDP of US$839 billion – compared to Switzerland with US$693 billion and the UAE at US$348 billion.

And in an acknowledgement of Donald Trump's desire to spend US$1 trillion on upgrading America's infrastructure, EFI said Florida is already No.2 in the nation with 20 commercial airports, 15 deepwater seaports including a super Post-Panamax, 3,000 miles of freight rail tracks and 122,000 miles of highway – plus two spaceports.

With Miami reflecting the state's goal to become a global business hub, Qatar Airways has become the latest foreign carrier to begin a freighter service via the airport (above) as it links Doha and Luxembourg twice a week with Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Quito and Liege, Belgium.

"We appreciate Qatar Airways Cargo for choosing MIA as a strategic hub for its Latin American cargo operations," said Miami-Dade Aviation director Emilio González. "As the busiest U.S. airport for international freight and for cargo traffic within the Americas, we expect them to see continued success on their new Miami cargo routes."

Pictured left to right: Emir Pineda, Miami-Dade Aviation Department (MDAD) manager, Aviation Trade & Logistics; Joe Napoli, MDAD chief of staff; Ken Pyatt, MDAD deputy director; Ian Morgan, Qatar Airways vice president Cargo for the Americas; and Emilio González, MDAD director.

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