BRADENTON -- The Team Florida Business Expo and Trade Mission proved to be a hit. "Opportunity Brazil" sponsored by Manatee County, Manatee Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Port Manatee, headed to South America's most populated country last October with the "open for business" flag flying high. It's only been a few months and the results are starting to come in.
Governor Rick Scott was the quasi-captain to a team of over 100. There were seven from the Manatee County delegation, most of which were connected to Port Manatee. I spoke with Steve Tyndal, Sr. Director Trade Development and Special Projects Port Manatee, about the high profile visit to the largest populated country in South America.
Tyndal said, "They export a lot of stuff, orange juice and Brazilian pine are two major products, but we are opening up markets where they will import our products."
Brazil has a population of 203.4 million. They have a GNP of $2.17 trillion and are the ninth largest economy in the world. Brazil has the 10th largest petroleum reserves, is the seventh largest manufacture of automobiles and the fourth largest manufacturer of aircrafts. It has the world's largest river basin, with hydroelectric power supplying 73 percent of it's energy needs.
Sao Paulo is a city with a population of 20 million and growing. Their economy is in better shape than many others in the world. The 115 Florida companies that participated in the Expo-Florida 2011 trip say they expect more than $95 million in export sales in the next 12 months, thanks to the mission.
Sharon Hillstrom, President, Manatee Economic Development Corporation, was extremely impressed with the business initiatives that formed during the expo. Governor Rick Scott spent time with many of the regional groups pleased with his experienced as well.
More than one million Brazilians visited Florida in 2010, 49 percent higher than the year before, spending $1.4 billion, up 78 percent from the prior year. Florida enjoys a trade surplus of more than $10 billion with Brazil, in contrast to the $4.2 billion deficit in trade with China. That $10 billion export surplus from Florida to Brazil translates into 44,000 full-time jobs for Floridians.
It would be a major success for the team if by increasing some of Florida's exports to destinations like Brazil, it also created more jobs at home. Port of Manatee director Carlos Buqueras is headed back to Brazil this week.
Both the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, will be hosted by Brazil.