Enterprise Florida opening trade office in South Africa
By Paola Iuspa
Enterprise Florida will open an office in South Africa next week.
An opening ceremony is scheduled during a trade mission to Johannesburg and Cape Town Feb. 11-17, said Manny Mencia, Enterprise senior vice president of international trade & business development.
Since initial Florida trade with Africa is small, he said, the office operating with a $120,000 yearly budget should help develop ties and strategic alliances.
"We decided to open this office," he said, "because we saw a long-term potential for Florida in Africa, particularly since Bill Clinton signed in May the Trade & Development Act of 2000," which scrapped tariffs on most African apparel.
With that act in place, Mr. Mencia said, business could blossom.
"South Africa accounts for two-thirds of US trade with Africa," he said. "It's an important trade partner." Yet, he said, it accounts for less than 1% of Florida's $70 billion in trading in 2000.
The African market, he said, seeks cellular phones, computer software and services, managed health care, cosmetic and hair care, in addition to agricultural products.
Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas said Africa is "the next emerging market because of stabilizing economies and new democracies."
Tony Ojeda, director of protocol & international trade in the mayor's office, said Mr. Penelas has been pushing relations with Africa.
"He created an African trade task force, which headed a trade mission to Africa last year," Mr. Ojeda said.
Jay Malina, chairman of the county's Trade Mission Center of the Americas, which helps fund trade missions, said many Miami trading companies know how to operate in developing countries, which should help.
"They have the experience," said Mr. Malina, an Enterprise Florida board member.