Quebec to tap Latin America from Miami trade office
As part of Quebec's Decade of the Americas program, Miami has become home to its newest commercial bureau in charge of increasing trade ties with Latin America and the Caribbean.
"We decided Florida was going to be our platform to Latin America," said Jean Duquette, senior representative for Quebec, a southeastern, French-speaking province with 7.4 million inhabitants.
The Miami bureau, at 801 Brickell Ave., is responsible for promoting exports, joint ventures and investments while forging strategic alliances with companies in Florida, said founders. Mr. Duquette said his office, which opened in July, will focus on expanding the image Floridians have of the people of Quebec.
"They know us as tourists and retirees," he said. "We want them to see us also as business partners."
Government officials have come up with goals to be accomplished during the Decade of the Americas and have established one bureau in Los Angeles, one in Atlanta and 10 in Latin America in addition to Miami's new office, Mr. Duquette said. The Americas program was created in 2000 by Quebec's National Assembly and there are now 35 such bureaus worldwide.
"A goal is to triple the number of Quebec companies exporting to or operating in Latin America," Mr. Duquette said. "Another goal is to increase the number of Quebeckers fluent in Spanish and Portuguese."
The bureaus, he said, would also help Quebecois age 18-35 find internships or would facilitate student-exchange experiences throughout the Americas.
For example, in 2000, the Quebec-Americas for the Youth Office, a branch of the Decade of the Americas initiative, signed an agreement with the Mexican Youth Institute allowing residents of Quebec to study in Mexico. It also held an Argentina-Chile mission last year that resulted in new partnerships with youth initiatives in both countries.
Mr. Duquette said he wanted to develop similar educational exchange programs in Florida. He said he also plans to meet with representatives of international economic organizations in Miami-Dade and trade-mission organizers to have his office included in their events.
Margaret Cullen, commercial officer with the Canadian Consulate, which has been active in Miami for 15 years, said she welcomes the new Quebec office and both entities are willing to cooperate, "although we both have different agendas."
Canada's major trade partners are the US, Japan, the UK, Germany, South Korea, The Netherlands, China, France, Taiwan and Mexico, which is a member of the North America Free Trade Area together with Canada and the U.S.
Canada, with 31 million people, is a fervent supporter of the Free Trade Area of the Americas and has bilateral free trade agreements with Chile, Costa Rica and Israel, said Normand Villeneuve, consul and trade commissioner at the Canadian Consulate. Canada is currently negotiating agreements with Central America and Singapore, according to a government document.
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