Chamber told 'record of success' needed for secretariat
less than a year before the temporary secretariat of the Free Trade
Area of the Americas leaves Miami, Lynn Summers, executive director
of Team Florida FTAA, said the pressure is on "to create a record
that the Free Trade Area of the Americas represents nearly 800 million
people and $14 trillion in economic output, it is the largest trading
bloc in the world," said Philip Blumberg, chairman of the Greater
Miami Chamber of Commerce, who has made winning the permanent secretariat
a top priority.
is a crucial year in that the interim headquarters is still here in
Miami," Mr. Blumberg said at the chamber's weekend goals conference.
"We have an opportunity to make a strong case why it should stay
here on a permanent basis. We want to make sure the business community
is involved in that effort."
for the Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations in Miami is the
top goal this year for the chamber's international economic development
chamber's role is in integrating the business community in the overall
effort to maintain the secretariat here in Miami," Mr. Blumberg
Summers said the nonprofit Team Florida FTAA is now raising funds
to meet negotiators' needs for the next year.
said negotiations are intensifying as delegates work to meet a December
deadline to deliver a draft agreement.
sessions are scheduled from 9 a.m.-9 p.m., increasing the need for
interpreters and translators. In addition, the secretariat has increased
staffing to more than 20 people and must lease additional office space
at the Hotel Inter-Continental Miami.
Summers said the state has budgeted $350,000 to help fill the gap.
Officials are also seeking $200,000 from the county. She said remaining
funds will be donated by the private sector.
move to Panama in 2001 and Mexico City in 2003 before wrapping up
a free trade agreement for the Western Hemisphere, due in 2005.
will face significant competition from Mexico, Panama and Brazil in
the city's quest to host the permanent secretariat after talks are
complete, said J. Antonio Villamil, Miami economist who is leaving
his post as director of trade, tourism and economic development under
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush this month to return here.
cannot afford not to have the permanent Free Trade Area of the Americas
secretariat here in Miami as a corporate image issue," Mr. Villamil
Lee Sandler, past chairman of the international economic development
committee of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, said the free
trade negotiations already have resulted in proposed business facilitation
said US implementation of those proposals could enhance Miami's chances
to get the permanent secretariat.
members discussed the need to build allies among US and Latin chamber
groups to broaden support for Miami's bid.