50 Chinese companies plan instructional visit here
By Claudio Mendonça
Top executives from 50 Chinese companies are headed to Miami-Dade County in March for a month-long stay to learn how business is done in Miami.
The visit is part of an agreement signed last month in Tianjin with the Miami Free Zone.
"In their stay, executives will be learning to understand our infrastructure," said Ralph Gazitua, Free Zone president. "It will be a 30-day introduction of the state of Florida. We want to bring executives to better understand Miami and also do a strategic alliance."
"Chinese are a little like Latin Americans," Mr. Gazitua said. "Before doing business, they like establishing personal relationships."
The Free Zone is hosting back-to-back events in the first quarter of next year to pave the way for the visit and strengthen business activity with Asia.
On Jan. 12, law firm Sandler Travis & Rosenberg will present a forum, Doing Business in China under the New China Agreement.
On Jan. 24, the Free Zone and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce will have a seminar, Chinese Influence in the Americas, with Mr. Gazitua as moderator.
In late January or early February, the Florida-China Association is to conduct a seminar on doing business in China. Gov. Jeb Bush and former Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood are expected to attend.
Even before the visit by 50 top executives looking for business, Miami-Dade County counts China as its sixth-largest trading partner.
"We will be spending the first three months of 2006 preparing for the visit of executives of the Tianjin Economic Development Area," said Mr. Gazitua.
The area, known as TEDA, is an industrial complex of 3,300 companies 80 miles southeast of Beijing in an area the size of Coral Gables. Investments in the industrial park exceed $15 billion.
TEDA is home to such multinational giants as Motorola, Nestle and Novonordisk, a Danish health-care company. TEDA's core is comprised of four key industries - electronics, foodstuffs, machinery and pharmaceuticals.
"Since we are doing so much business with China these days, the Jan. 24 seminar is to discuss China's role in the Americas," said Maria Masvidal-Visser, vice president of international business development for the Miami chamber. "We would like to know better the pros and cons that the future might bring when working with China."
In April, TEDA Vice Chairman Zhang Jun led a delegation that visited the Miami Free Zone in Doral.
When Mr. Gazitua visited China last month, the Free Zone signed the memorandum of understanding with Tianjin in which the goal is to "work together to increase trade and commerce; establish economic development initiatives; support programs to enhance trade; and work towards opening representative offices in each other's facilities."
"The focus of the trip was on business development," Mr. Gazitua said. "When we were in Tianjin last month, folks at TEDA greeted us very well."