Peru, Ecuador have 'incredible amount of potential' for trade, Diaz says
By Charlotte Libov
With their agricultural histories, manufacturing bases and service industries, Peru and Ecuador offer a tremendous untapped market for Miami-Dade County should the Free Trade Area of the Americas be approved, according to two officials who took part in a trade mission.
"There is an incredible amount of potential in Peru and Ecuador. For Miami-Dade County, that means a lot because we would have another partner to facilitate business with," said County Commissioner JosČ "Pepe" Diaz.
"I think there is a significant market opportunity with Peru. It's been a good market for Florida technology such as IT and communications, and with a free trade agreement, there is potential to grow that relationship exponentially," said Manny Mencia, Enterprise Florida's senior vice president for international trade and business development.
Both were part of a mission led by Gov. Jeb Bush that met with officials and business leaders in Lima and Quito. During the visit, Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo endorsed Miami as the location for the trade area's headquarters.
The trip was billed as primarily a "goodwill and advocacy" mission, but both officials acknowledged it was hard not to look ahead and visualize the kind of business that might transpire if the FTAA were created.
Mr. Diaz visited Peru eight years ago and said he was impressed with the positive changes in the country since then.
"When I was there before, it was very different. There was a lot of uncertainty, a lot of security guards, and the streets were not as clean," he said. "I was very impressed with the Peru of today. There is an incredible amount of potential, and for Miami-Dade County, that would mean a lot because we would have another partner with which to facilitate business.
"Produce, manufacturing and service were things that I thought we could do. For instance, their fishing industry is excellent. They have all kinds of manufacturing, including textile," he said. For investors, he added, "given the right companies with the right investments, if new technologies are put in place for maximum productivity, they could reap great rewards."