Americas Linkage tour of Latin America, Caribbean called a success
By Charlotte Libov
The mission was whittled down, but delegates of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's Americas Linkage Program who returned last week from their six-week tour of five Latin American and Caribbean countries racked up a number of accomplishments, said Maria Masvidal-Visser, chamber vice president for international business development.
"The evaluations are still being tallied," she said, but preliminary statistics showed that while participants tallied just $23,000 in immediate sales, total business over the next year generated by the trip is expected to exceed $3.6 million.
Also, she said, nine representation and joint venture/licensing agreements were signed during the mission and 26 more are expected over the next year.
She said the mission's 83 participants representing 61 companies participated in 109 appointments related to direct sales, representation agreements and joint venture/licensing proposals.
The trip also resulted in memoranda of understanding with the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in San Juan and the Argentinean Chamber of Commerce in Buenos Aires. Also, she said, the chamber is in the process of signing a memorandum of understanding with Fundacion Exportar, an Argentinean organization supported by the private and public sectors to support international commerce. "This is an important three-way agreement," Ms. Masvidal-Visser said.
Americas Linkage was initiated in 2000 to market Greater Miami's service businesses to Latin America. This most recent trip ran March 20-April 28. Delegates visited Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Santiago, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Montevideo, Uruguay.
Not all delegates visited each locale.
"Since we did not receive state funding this year, we were in transition, but we were able to get a lot of support from the private sector," Ms. Masvidal-Visser said. Many local companies contacted the group, she said, "because by now, people know what the Americas Linkage program is."
Countries visited were chosen specifically because "we wanted to be very targeted and we wanted to make sure we went places that were a lot of growth potential," she said.
This trip differed from others, though, because it did not focus solely on business-to-business contacts but was designed to be broader, she said.
"This year we gave it a little twist," she said. "Besides just talking about the importance of Miami and saying 'come to Miami and open an office,' we identified sectors where we could put together joint ventures."
The group, she said, also promoted the chamber more than it had in the past.
"We sold the chamber as a place for virtual connectivity," she said, noting that the chamber has a special area on its web site "where people who are members can list their code if they are trying to sell a particular service or product.
"We went with that concept, that one of the benefits of being a member of the chamber of commerce is the ability to connect with other businesses internationally," she said.
"This was something of major interest, the fact that we do have certain alliances worldwide, so we talked about how international members can connect not only with members but also partners worldwide. We have a special category for people who don't have a base in Florida but who wish to connect with us virtually," she said, adding that about 20 companies are considering joining the chamber in this capacity.