July trade mission by Enterprise to make contacts in Chile, Argentina
By Paola Iuspa
Representatives for more than 200 companies are heading to Chile and Argentina as part of a July trade mission sponsored by Enterprise Florida and led by Gov. Jeb Bush.
Silvia Visconti, managing director of Team Florida with Enterprise Florida, said representatives for about 60 companies are going to Santiago from July 14-18 and then to Buenos Aires July 18-21 to seek clients and joint ventures.
Pre-screened matchmaking appointments are scheduled, Ms. Visconti said. She said other delegates are heading south to speak during conferences about Florida's logistics and infrastructure, to reinforce existing trade ties or to promote the business climate by just attending events scheduled throughout the seven-day trip.
Argentina President Fernando De La Rua is to attend a lunch with mission delegates that is being sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce in Buenos Aires, Ms. Visconti said.
During the visit, she said, Enterprise Florida representatives are to start using E-Florida as a brand to market Florida. In that way, they can promote the state's increasing high-tech presence, said Sena Black, vice president of marketing and research for the private-public business and trade development organization.
Representatives for many of the companies participating from all across the state said they are full of expectations about the trip despite Argentina's economic instability. John Chiorando, president of Quality One Wireless Inc. in Orlando, said he wants to trade with firms in Argentina and Chile but his company's exposure in that part of the world is minimal. He said he looks forward to meeting with entrepreneurs who have made appointments to meet with him in both countries.
Mr. Chiorando, who said he started his business two years ago and has 35 employees, said the mission is the opportunity he's been waiting for to get a foot in South America.
"Telecommunication is a growing market in Argentina," he said. "If we can get our footprint there now, when the economy improves we are going to have the business we are looking for."
Genilde Guerra, with the law office of Robert Kravitz in Miami, said she's going to Santiago and Buenos Aires not to meet with anyone in particular but to try to make contacts so that her firm can hold seminars on how to do businesses in the US.
"We want to educate South American people on how to do business in the US," she said. She said the firm specializes in international and immigration law.
"Based on our experience, many have great products to sell but don't know how to trade with other countries," Ms. Guerra said. "Their thinking is too local. They manufacture and sell the products among neighboring countries.
"We want to educate them on global trade and teach them they can export their products to Hong Kong or Russia via Miami. For example, they can do business with those countries but sign the contracts in Miami to make them subject to American law.
"Of course, it depends on the type of business or product they offer," she said, whether those arrangements have appeal.
Ms. Guerra said members of her firm could meet potential clients from small- and mid-size companies at the seminars.
Bertha Rozier, vice president of HSCB Bank USA in Coral Gables, said the mission is a way to keep in touch with her customers in South America.
"We are attending the conferences and hosting a dinner at the Argentina ambassador's house," Ms. Rozier said. "We are inviting our clients down there to join us."
The New York-based bank opened branches in Florida in December 1999, she said. The Coral Gables branch opened in March, she said, and has customers all over the globe.
George Elbe, director of air service development and international commerce for Tampa International Airport, said the mission is giving him another opportunity to meet with officials of two airlines Tampa is trying to attract to its runways. Mr. Elbe said the airport wants LAPA of Argentina and LanChile of Chile to serve the Tampa Bay area.
"Our goal is to talk to those airlines when we are there," he said. "LAPA recently formed a partnership with Delta Airlines, so it's possible it may not be flying to Atlanta anymore, to avoid competition. So we want some of those flights to come here."
He said LanChile flies in and out of Miami, Washington, Baltimore and New York. He said the mission would give him a chance to reinforce ongoing talks with officials from both airlines.
Joanne Emslie-Korn, executive director of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, said she will head a group of 12 companies whose offerings range from farm and security equipment to logistics and medical services.
"We have been to Chile five times in trade missions," she said. "We just came back from one in Brazil. Our chamber is very active in promoting trade with South America."