Florida Seaports Respond to COVID-19 and International Trade Challenge


While Florida ports face many challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, the state’s seaports continue to be proactive, with strategies to boost international trade, which benefits the economy of Florida by improving the flow of goods across the country and around the world.

This week the Florida Harbors Board and the Coordination of Ports and Merchant Navy (Coordinadora de Puertos) coordinated the first meeting of a Florida / Mexico Working Group,

The group was set up to review and identify issues, opportunities and challenges to improve the flow of international trade via all-water routes.

This meeting came at the right time, just before the news United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which entered into force on July 1.

The Florida / Mexico working group was created through a letter of intent signed by the Board of Ports and the Coordinadora de Puertos in November. The participants pledged to create a 12-member Mexican and Florida maritime trade task force to develop maritime trade between the two entities.

“Mexico has long been one of Florida’s strongest trading partners, but we see substantial growth opportunities in bilateral waterway trade,” said Doug wheeler, Chairman and CEO of the Florida Harbors Board. “The Letter of Intent that was signed in November by Florida and the Gulf of Mexico ports was only the first step in that process, and the working group meeting this week reinforced our commitment to seek the benefits. and the solutions that an all-water route will provide. . “

In July 2019, delegation members from the Board of Ports, Enterprise Florida, and the World Trade Center Miami traveled to Mexico City to promote the all-water trade route through Florida.

Of Florida’s 15 deep-water seaports, eight sent representatives to Mexico, including Port Canaveral, JAXPORT, Port Manatee, PortMiami, Port Panama City, Port of Pensacola, Port Everglades and Port Tampa Bay.

The Florida Ports Council coordinated with Jonathan Chiat Auerbach, the Mexican Consul General in Miami and the Mexico City office of Enterprise Florida to schedule meetings for the delegation with government officials and agencies, customs officials, and the Coordinadora de Puertos.

In November, the Mexican delegation traveled to Miami to sign a letter of intent.

Héctor Lopez Gutiérrez, general coordinator of Puertos y Marina Mercante, said:

“For Mexico, shipping routes including cabotage service and short sea shipping are very important… and are convenient for all countries involved, and help solve many of the issues that are currently appearing in the channels mentioned. I therefore hope that the integration of the working group and the participation of the ports and agencies that participate in it will make it a very successful project, one could even say exemplary, in terms of national and international trade.

“The creation of the task force, proposed in the letter of intent signed by the Merchant Navy and the Florida Ports Council last November, is an example of the commitment and interest of both parties in making this relationship a axis of trade and investment between Mexico. and the United States, ”Auerbach said. “The selection of working group participants fully represents the commercial potential between Mexico and Florida. Undoubtedly, taking advantage of the existing maritime border between the two entities will bring a significant benefit for the well-being of the population of both countries and in particular in Mexico, the south-south-eastern region of the country.

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