Binational chamber group sets showcase for commerce
By Paola Iuspa
The Association of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce in South Florida Inc. is putting the final touches on planning the World Business Week showcase scheduled for March 26-30 in several Miami hotels, said Lita Haeger, chamber president and CEO.
Seminars, panels, banquets and luncheons will be at the heart of the program, she said.
Buyers, distributors and members of the international community are expected to gather from 6-9 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables, to start the expo on March 26, said Elba Hentschel, executive director of the US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce. The ceremony, open to the public, costs $15.
"There is a lot of enthusiasm being built up among members of the consular corps of Miami" for this event, said Mario Sacasa, vice president of international economic development for the Beacon Council.
The consular corps, the third-largest in the US behind those in Washington, DC and New York, represents 65 nations, he said.
Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a supporter of international trade, is planning to attend some of the events, said Hugh Simon, Florida's under-secretary of state for international affairs.
"This is a high-quality event," Mr. Simon said, that should advance Miami as a business center for out-of-the-state corporations and representatives of other countries.
The four-day event, with each day dedicated to different countries, will end with a gala at 7 p.m. March 30 in the Hotel Inter-Continental Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza, Ms. Haeger said. Tickets for the gala are $65.
During the event, the binational chambers group will give Violetta Barrios de Chamorro, president of Nicaragua from 1990-97, an award for leadership in global trade, Ms. Haeger said.
"She opened up the country to international trade," said Mr. Sacasa, who was Nicaragua's consul general in Miami from 1991-97. "Before President Chamorro, Nicaragua was governed in a totalitarian, centralized economy without private sector participation. She opened it up to us, to international institutions and to the world. When she became president, an 11-year embargo on Nicaragua was lifted."
Binational chamber members had two months to come up with names of potential award winners, Ms. Haeger said. Last year's binational chambers award went to Lech Walesa, president of Poland from '90-95 and winner of the 1983 Nobel Prize for Peace.
Chambers from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will promote commercial opportunities on March 27, Ms. Hentschel said. The US-Mexico Chamber will sponsor a seminar evaluating the first 100 days of Vicente Fox's presidency at 8:30 a.m. in the Biltmore Hotel, she said. The Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce will have an outlook on Brazil's technology at 10:30 a.m., also in the Biltmore, Ms. Haeger said.
A European and Scandinavian day will be held March 28 when the British-American, Italy-America and German-American Business chambers of commerce of Florida will play host to a luncheon in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Brickell Key, said Gaynor Evans, executive coordinator for the British-American chamber. Respective councils will be guest speakers.
"It is a chance to tell people what we do, how closely we work with the councils and how we can help," Ms. Evans said.
The luncheon is an opportunity for representatives from those countries to discuss issues and share projects with the general public, Mr. Sacasa said.
Also, the Norwegian-American and Swedish-American chambers of commerce, together with Denmark's representatives, will stage a Viking Festival, Ms. Haeger said.
"Vikings will invade Bayside Wednesday night," she said.
Goran Hellman, president of the Swedish-American Chamber, said the festival will begin with a vodka-aquavit cocktail party at 6 p.m. in Diego's Restaurant in Bayside Marketplace. Details: (305) 443-3558
"At 7 p.m., two replicas of authentic Viking ships will shore at the Bayside marina with Norwegians dressed in Viking outfits," Mr. Hellman said.
A Scandinavian gourmet-buffet and delicatessen, prepared by a Danish chef, will be served as a way to promote Scandinavian specialities, he said. Tickets are $45 and reservations will be required. Details: (305) 443-3558.
During Asian Day on March 29, the Japan Society of South Florida and the Miami Korean Chamber of Commerce will hold a reception in the Mandarin, Ms. Haeger said.
Ms. Haeger said additional events are being planned.
Details: (305) 365-7247.