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June 21, 2018

Corner Office

A Great Partnership

Lynda Keever | 2/1/2008

Lynda Keever, Publisher

I recently had the opportunity to go to São Paulo, Brazil, as part of a Team Florida trade mission coordinated by Enterprise Florida. With more than 200 Florida business, government and economic development leaders, it was the largest-ever American trade mission to Brazil. The mission strengthened Florida and Brazil’s business partnership and fostered the exchange of ideas for a greener economy.

Brazil is Florida’s No. 1 international trade partner with a trade value of $11.3 billion in 2006. The state of São Paulo is known as the “engine of Brazil” and is responsible for about 34% of Brazil’s gross domestic product. During the mission, we toured the world headquarters of Embraer, a Brazilian aircraft manufacturer. Embraer planes are used in about 45% of domestic flights worldwide. The firm’s North American facility is in Fort Lauderdale.

During our trip, we heard a presentation from General Motors about its plans to build many new ethanol stations throughout the United States.

Brazil is the largest manufacturer of sugar cane-based ethanol in the world. And with soy now being used to create a cleaner-burning fuel, Brazil, as a major producer of soybeans, is well-positioned to become the world’s largest exporter of soybeans. As the U.S. progresses toward more alternative energy standards, Florida will be a key player as Brazil’s entry point to the U.S. During the mission, Gov. Charlie Crist expressed his support for eliminating the tariff on Brazilian ethanol that’s in effect until 2009.

Gary Spulak, (left) president of Embraer Aircraft Holding, gave Gov. Charlie Crist and me a tour of Embraer’s headquarters in Brazil.

U.S. and Florida sponsors of the mission included Akerman Senterfitt, American Airlines, Bank of America, CAMACOL, ETH Bioenergy-Odebrecht, Express Travel, Falcone Group, Florida Trend, General Motors, Mercantil Commercebank and Orange County, Florida.

More than 50 Florida companies participated in the Florida-Brazil Business Matchmaker Expo. More than $300 million was generated in actual and expected sales during the expo.

This is in addition to a $182-million deal between Green Power Systems of Jacksonville and Controlsud International Group to finance a plant being built for Renewable Fuels of Tallahassee LLC to convert garbage to energy.

Gov. Crist said that the expo opened new doors for both economies. “The partnerships begun during this trade mission will have long-lasting effects for years to come,” Crist said in a news release.

Future Team Florida missions provide an opportunity for you to showcase your company or organization abroad. Plus, you’ll benefit from one-on-one prearranged appointments set up by Enterprise Florida with business prospects in another country. Upcoming missions are being planned to the Dominican Republic, West Africa and Mexico. For more information, visit and click “Events.”

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