Miami-Dade looks to build freight ties with Brazil, Paraguay
Brazil is by far Miami-Dade’s top trade partner, and Paraguay has long had freight ties. But Commissioner Javier Souto, Aviation Director Lester Sola and PortMiami Director Juan Kuryla point to “tremendous” untapped potential for cargo growth with both.
“We’re talking about jobs,” Mr. Souto told commissioners Tuesday after a trade trip they took to those nations. “We’re talking about bread on the table for the people of Miami-Dade County.”
Paraguay, he said, is South America’s fastest-growing economy, nearly 7% year over year.
Landlocked with just 7.15 million people in an area more than twice Florida’s, it’s “the eighth-most important beef exporter in the world,” he said.
Export.gov on July 23 ranked Paraguay exports seventh-most for beef, top for organic sugar, second for stevia and sixth for soy.
Paraguay, Mr. Souto said, is “strategically located” between Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. For cargo, it uses a 1,675-mile river “that is like a smaller Mississippi [that] comes down from Bolivia.”
Mr. Kuryla saw “the same shipping lines that are calling on Miami” on the Paraguay River. “We’re trying to see how we can get that cargo.”
Miami’s lack of direct Paraguay flights could soon end, Mr. Sola said. “We are working with Paraguay to establish a direct route for the airport. We have an incentive program that’s been approved by this board to assist us.”
South America, Central America and the Caribbean provide almost 80% of Miami-Dade’s trade, county figures show.
Although Brazil cargo is top at Miami International Airport, PortMiami has yet to hit a similar boom, Mr. Kuryla said.
“It’s a $1.9 trillion GDP, and right now it’s not yet within the port’s top trading companies,” he said. “It’s our goal to bring those leather goods, bring that hide, bring – when permissible – refrigerated beef from Brazil to PortMiami by establishing new trade links.”