Chinese Companies Look To Move Into Miami
By Suzy Valentine
Up to 20 Chinese companies are looking to establish a Miami base in the next few months following a series of trade visits, according to the county’s International Trade Commission.
Manny Gonzalez, head of the commission, said one consortium, which made site visits and represents at least 12 companies, could finalize plans to set up a multi-company distribution center in the area as early as next month. At least eight more firms have visited and made preliminary inquiries.
"Some of the companies may have something to announce as soon as mid-October," Mr. Gonzalez said. "They’ve made the requisite site inspections and are now seeking legal advice on how to set up the infrastructure – including how and where to incorporate. There’s a lot more to it than have-passport-will travel."
The first trade delegation was sent by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce in June to tour the city and meet commission staff. The four-strong delegation comprised the deputy director of the Investment Promotions Department, a representative from each of the ministry’s departments of Foreign Economic Cooperation and American and Oceanic Affairs, together with China’s Houston-based consul general.
"The trip was designed to enable high-level officials to come and evaluate investment opportunities," said Joe Chi, executive director of the Miami Overseas Chinese Association who helped arrange the visit. "They represented two distinct investment groups – private and state-owned companies as well as central government.
"There will be further missions off the back of this one," he said.
Last month, the Shanghai Development Group sent representatives to the Port of Miami.
"The city’s officials and businesses are looking for potential trading partners here in Miami," Mr. Gonzalez said.
"Trade from China to the Port of Miami already accounts for 15% of tonnage," he said – figures which the Port of Miami’s public information officer, Andria Muniz, confirmed.
She said imports to Miami from Chinese ports excluding Hong Kong more than doubled in the year ending in May – 304,696 from 115,369. Exports more than quadrupled, with 86,082 tons leaving Miami as compared to 22,137 in the previous year.
Meanwhile, almost a year since returning from a trade mission to Hong Kong and Singapore, M.A.R.S. Contractors Inc. co-founder Brenda Hill-Riggins said she has been in talks this week with an undisclosed Chinese manufacturer she hopes will help her produce a line of toys, dolls, stuffed animals, games and children’s books. The company successfully beat out two other contenders, introduced to Ms. Hill-Riggins during the trip, to make and supply goods for her latest venture, WOMBS International.
Ms. Hill-Riggins was one of 13 business leaders and Miami-Dade County officials to visit southeast Asia in September 2003, two months after Congress approved a free-trade pact between the US and Singapore.