After Florida trade mission, Brazil returns the favor
By Scott Blake
Following a Florida trade mission to Brazil, more than 20 Brazilian companies are expected to meet in Miami next week as part of efforts to boost commerce between Brazil and the US, using South Florida as a launching pad.
Representatives from about two dozen Brazilian food and beverage companies will gather at the Intercontinental Hotel to promote their products and find US distributors as part of an event partly organized by Apex-Brazil, Brazil's trade and investment promotion agency in Miami.
"They plan to use South Florida as the entry point," Apex-Brazil spokesman Jaime Florez told Miami Today on Tuesday.
Apex wants to make next week's meeting, organized in partnership with the Brazilian Council for Import and Export Companies, the first of several trade missions here for Brazilian companies from varying industries.
Mr. Florez said Florida's trade mission to Brazil last week generated more interest in next week's Miami meeting.
"Going down to Brazil really awakened more possibilities," he added. "People there found out there's real interest in the US to do business with Brazil."
The Nov. 11 downtown event, called a trade development networking program, is for food and beverage companies offering everything from coffee to cheese-bread to fruit juices. The next Miami event may be for the Brazilian construction and building materials industry, he said.
Apex-Brazil recently expanded its South Florida office, moving from Doral to downtown Miami. Among other functions, Apex provides "business incubator space" to Brazilian companies seeking to get a US foothold, Mr. Florez said.
Gov. Rick Scott's office announced the Apex expansion following the Brazil trade mission in which he led more than 180 persons from Florida government and business for several days of business meetings and networking.
Afterwards, he was optimistic.
"Brazilian businesses are eager to do business in Florida," Gov. Scott said. "The Apex expansion in Miami means more Brazilian companies will have the opportunity to learn about what we are doing in Florida to make our state the best place for businesses to grow and expand."
Apex expanded to an 11,000-square-foot office at 201 S Biscayne Blvd., representing a $500,000 capital investment, and added seven staffers. The space is primarily 20 business incubator offices to promote international business opportunities.
Apex opened its US headquarters in 2005 at the Miami Free Trade Zone in Doral, with five employees in about 7,000 square feet of offices.
Today, the governor's office said, Apex's staff has grown to about 18 full time at average salaries of $55,000 a year. In three years, Apex plans to grow to 29 employees.
Brazil is becoming a major trading partner with Florida. Its economic growth has fueled demand there for products from the US, as evidenced by Florida exports to Brazil totaling more than $13.7 billion last year.
Next week's event, Apex said, is designed to "give Brazilian and American companies the opportunity to establish and strengthen profitable and long-range commercial relationships."
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