Canada emerging as state's top trade partner
By Claudio Mendonça
Canada could top Brazil as the No. 1 importer of Florida goods and services this year, according to Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development agency.
Through September, the state had sold $2.1 billion of products made in Florida to Canada this year, up 16% from the same period in 2004. Canadian imports from Florida have grown about 50% over the past decade.
Brazil, which has been Florida's top trade partner and importer for years, has bought $2.1 billion in goods this year, down 6.9% from a year ago. In 2004, Brazil purchased $2.3 billion and was the leading destination of Florida products.
"Canada is a fantastic market, and it just continues to get stronger," said Erin Heston of Enterprise Florida in Orlando.
One reason for the increase in trade, she said, was a 150-person mission spearheaded by Gov. Jeb Bush in July 2004 to Ontario and Quebec.
According to Enterprise Florida, two-way merchandise trade between Canadians and Floridians amount to about $5.5 billion a year, making Canada the state's second-most-important trading partner to Brazil.
According to the Canadian consulate, however, if indirect exports - those traveling via other US states - were included in trade rankings, Canada would probably surpass Brazil as the top destination.
"Canada plays a vital role in the overall health of our economy," said Gov. Bush in a statement.
Three-quarters of the merchandise trade is transported over land by truck with another 15% shipped by rail. The remaining 10% is transported by air or sea.
According to Enterprise Florida, more than 200 Canadian companies are operating in the state.
In 2002, holdings by Canada-affiliated companies in Florida were valued at $4.7 billion. Major Canadian investments are in manufacturing, construction, real estate rental, the information sector, finance, professional, scientific, technical services, transportation and warehousing.
Nearly 2 million Canadians visit Florida annually, leaving $1.6 billion in the state.
Canada is responsible for the employment of 289,000 Floridians. In addition to manufacturing, Canadian majority-owned firms employ significant numbers of Floridians in transportation, construction, health care, financial services, and retail trade.
Canadian businesses and consumers import about $2.5 billion worth of Florida-origin goods each year across a variety of industries.
The top Canadian imports from Florida include technology products, aerospace parts, medical equipment, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, electronic components, telecommunications equipment, fruits, packaged foods, motor vehicle parts, boats, metal products and nursery plants.
"As Florida's No. 1 foreign investor, Canada continues a complementary relationship with the Sunshine State," said Marcy Grossman, Canadian consul general in Miami
In addition to Canada and Brazil, major importers of Florida products include Mexico, which purchased $1.6 billion worth of goods, up 21% from a year ago. Mexico was followed by Venezuela, which spent $1.5 billion, and Colombia, $950 million.
Venezuela had the greatest increase in imports from Florida from a year ago, 48%.