Expanding e-market in spotlight at customs symposium
opening reception for the Sixth Symposium of the Americas, Customs
Trade & Finance crowded the Hotel Inter-Continental Miami Monday with
buzzing discussions about trade's latest asset, an expanding electronic
directors general from 34 countries toasted and talked about smoothing
international trade, while representatives for leading firms in e-trade
such as From2.com, a symposium sponsor, and Yupi.com announced they
could facilitate global market exchanges through Internet technology.
three-day symposium, which lured 451 participants including speakers
and sponsors to Miami, was launched in 1994 during the Summit of the
Americas when gathering customs leaders gave a mandate to create a
Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005.
are a basic element of free commerce," said symposium Chairman
German Leiva, president & CEO of the Miami Free Zone. "The FTAA
cannot achieve success if customs directors from each individual country
are not in agreement."
Leiva kicked off the reception by tapping scissors against the glass
jar of a candle to quiet the excited voices who command Western Hemispheric
trade. He welcomed participants and introduced Leon Falic, president
& CEO of From2.com and keynote speaker Katherine Harris, Florida's
secretary of state.
leaning over the podium, Mr. Falic who said Miami is the gateway
to the Americas told economic leaders they faced many challenges
and opportunities in the e-trade business.
companies are afraid of selling internationally over the Internet.
We believe this is the future and will lead to greater prosperity
throughout the US, which is the goal of this conference."
cut the red ribbon to set the week in motion, Ms. Harris talked about
her efforts to boost national prosperity, culminated by her attempt
to make Miami the permanent home of the trade secretariat, which she
says could make this city the Brussels of the Western Hemisphere.
Harris said jobs will skyrocket for whomever receives the headquarters
for the 800 million person, $14 million trading block. She said she
has fought since her election last year to keep the permanent secretariat
out of Panama and Mexico City the other two possible sites.
The temporary secretariat will move from Miami to Panama next year,
when trade talks shift locations.
we originally accepted the responsibility of hosting the temporary
secretariat, the foreign ministers were not pleased because it was
not adequately funded," Ms. Harris said. "Through the creation
of Team Florida FTAA, we were able to raise $600,000 and turned it
around. Negotiations are on track. If we get the secretariat, Miami
will be the national location for every company in the trading sector."
Harris said the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution
designating Miami as its preferred location for the secretariat and
with congressional backing, Florida's role is to provide the services
and hospitality to make customs leaders want to stay.
customs officials say the symposium signifies democratic countries'
continued desire to cooperate, not only in dealing more effectively
with international commerce but also in getting each other up to speed
with efficient trade technology.
world is shrinking and borders are becoming a thing of the past,"
said Thomas Winkowsky, director of field operations for the Department
of Treasury, US Customs. "The near future will spawn a total
worldwide paperless economy. These forums are a reality check that
it is going to happen and help us prepare to deal with the changes."