Quebec trade missions target Miami's film industry, architects
By Paola Iuspa
Quebec officials in Miami plan to increase sales in Florida of multimedia products and decor designs from water fountains to glass doors by sponsoring for the first time in years two trade missions to South Florida.
Jean Duquette, senior representative of the Government of Quebec's Miami bureau, said Quebec is well known for producing much of the three-dimensional software used to produce such Hollywood movies as The Titanic, Jurassic Park, Armageddon and Fifth Element. Now he wants to bring that technology to Miami.
The French-speaking province, with 7.4 million inhabitants, is home to many specialized firms that are developing animation, interactive-imagery, industrial-control and simultaneous-multilingual software programs. It was that synergy that drove the US in 1999 to invest $100 million in a software-development center in Quebec's multimedia district - Cité du multimedia - launched in 1998, according to the province's Miami bureau.
The multimedia conglomerate resulted from about $780 million in venture capital invested in information technology, or IT, from 1996-99, excluding government funding and fiscal incentives.
IT is one of the five industries that fuel most of Quebec's economy. Others are aeronautics, biotechnology, food products and building materials.
Mr. Duquette, whose jurisdiction in February will expand to include Puerto Rico, said it seems now is the right time to introduce these products in the Miami market.
With an apparent local and state political eagerness to boost the film and entertainment industry in Florida, many television and film producers might be here in spring when the Quebec delegation will showcase products ranging from software to technical equipment, Mr. Duquette said.
Another Quebec trade mission planned for February will target South Florida architects and interior designers, he said. The delegation will display Christmas and other theme decorations for office buildings, cruise ships and shopping centers.
Some in the Canadian community hail Mr. Duquette and his initiatives.
"He is very aggressive in his task of promoting business with Quebec," said Raymond Gélinas, president and CEO of Natbank in Fort Lauderdale, a Florida retail-banking subsidiary of National Bank of Canada, a major Canadian bank.
"He likes to move things around and develop trade and business opportunities," Mr. Gélinas said. "He is very polished, more of a businessman than a politician."
A year after Mr. Duquette opened this office, he said he is not giving up hope that Enterprise Florida, a public and private agency focused on expanding business and Florida trade, will send a trade mission to Quebec.
"One thing I realized about Miami being the platform for the Americas," he said, "is that most of the trade promotion activity is focused on Latin America, to the south of the US, and very little to the north."
He said he asked Enterprise Florida officials to consider holding trade missions to Quebec.
Manuel Mencia, the state agency's senior vice president for international trade & business development, said he has been working closely with the Canadian consulate in Miami to promote trade because Canada is Florida's second largest trading partner, after Brazil.
The total trade value with Canada reached $5.3 billion in 2001, and $1.5 billion of that was between the Florida and Quebec, Mr. Duquette said.
Statistics of exports and imports drawn from Florida's ports and airports don't project a complete picture of the bilateral commerce, Mr. Mencia said, because most of the commodities are transported by train and truck. Enterprise Florida, which has one Canadian office in Quebec, is planning a mission for next year. Still in the works, Mr. Mencia said, the Florida delegation would visit businesses in the French province, Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver.
Mr. Mencia, who recently assigned a staff person to work full time on the agency's Canada desk, is also assisting the Canadian consulate to hold two missions to Pensacola and Tampa for the air space and information technology industries, respectively.
Mr. Gélinas said Quebec has been very aggressive in promoting exports for the past 20 years.
"It was the first province to endorse the North America Free Trade Agreement," he said, referring to NAFTA, a trade pact signed in 1993 by the US, Canada and Mexico. "Now they are very supportive of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas," or FTAA.
Mr. Duquette meets monthly with 12 other trade commissioners from all over the Americas stationed in Miami.
How to assist in the development of the FTAA, to be signed by 2005 by 34 Western Hemisphere nations, is one topic tackled at the meetings, said Fernando Albareda, trade commissioner for Peru in Miami. As president of the year-old nonprofit, Mr. Albareda said many of trade group's members see Mr. Duquette as a valuable resource and are interested in doing business with Quebec as well as the rest of Canada.