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International Trade is a Bright Spot for Florida

Pport of Miami
Trend: Progress
Gov. Rick Scott in March directed the Department of Transportation to give the Port of Miami the $77 million it needs to dredge its harbor to 50 feet to accommodate post-Panamax ships. Legislation eliminates redundant state security requirements for port workers and mandates creation of a statewide transportation plan identifying road, port and rail needs.

A Bright Spot — With Challenges

The recession ended early for international trade, and the sector continues to perform well even as much of Florida's economy continues a slow slog out of the recession. In 2010, Florida-origin exports grew to an all-time high of $55.2 billion. Trade in goods and services plus direct foreign investment now accounts for 16% of Florida's economy and supports one in five jobs.

Foreign trade isn't just a sandbox for big firms. Florida's small and midsized businesses account for more than half of the export trade, finding markets for their products abroad even as the domestic economy lags.

For all the good news, the state will have to work hard to keep its edge. Following are snapshots of the major trends and challenges facing the international trade sector moving into the second half of 2011.

Florida Seaports
Seaport Cargo (tons, 2010) Cruise Passengers (2010)
Port of Tampa 37,148,407
Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale)
21,640,144 3,674,226
Port Manatee (Palmetto)
9,000,0001 0
Jaxport (Jacksonville)
8,100,000 173,568
Port of Miami-Dade
7,389,165 4,145,053
Port Canaveral (Cape Canaveral)
3,218,144 2,802,951
Port of Palm Beach (Riviera Beach)
2,548,346 294,138
Port Panama City
1,345,000 0
Port of Fernandina
654,737 0
Port of Fort Pierce
315,000 0
Port of Pensacola
269,415 0
Port of Key West
0 808,845
Port St. Joe Marina (Port St. Joe)2
0 0
Port of St. Petersburg3 0 0
Ranked by cargo tonnage. 1Estimate 2 Deals with wet-slip and dry-slip customers only. 3Deals with large private yachts and research vessels only. ©Copyright 2011 Trend Magazines Inc. This list may not be reproduced in any format without written permission from the publisher.

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> Challenge: Competition

It's a conundrum that leaves state trade officials shaking their heads — despite the success and capacity of Florida's ports, many Florida businesses continue to use out-of-state ports such as those in Savannah, Ga., Charleston, S.C., and Norfolk, Va., to ship and receive goods.

Phil Allen
"There are significant opportunities that are bypassing Florida today."
— Phil Allen, Port Everglades director/chairman of the Florida Ports Council

Meanwhile, imports from Latin America that could come into Florida and then make their way to the rest of the U.S. are coming into Houston and L.A. According to a report by the Florida Chamber Foundation, Florida seaports in 2009 handled only 55% of the waterborne cargo imports that were used in this state and 75% of the exports produced here. Panama's Colon Free Zone grabs some transshipment business that Florida could handle, and at least one port in the Bahamas can already handle the post-Panamax container ships for which Florida ports are too shallow.


Three Florida ports are among the top 15 exporting ports in the U.S.:

No. 11
Port Everglades ($11.1 billion in exports in 2010)

No. 13
Port of Miami ($10.3 billion in exports)

No. 15
Jaxport ($9.2 billion in exports)

Source: Port Everglades

Trade Math, 2010

Florida-origin exports: $55.2 billion, a record (up 17.8% from 2009)

+ Other exports: $17.8 billion

+ Imports: $53.2 billion (up 23%)

= Total trade: $126.2 billion (up 23%)

Source: Enterprise Florida

Florida Free Trade Zones
Name Federal Zone #
Brevard County/Port Canaveral 136
Fort Lauderdale 241
Fort Myers 213
Homestead 166
Jacksonville 64
Manatee County 169
Miami 32
Orlando 42
Pinellas County 193
Port Everglades/Broward County 25
Port of Palm Beach 135
Port of Pensacola 249
Port Panama City 65
Sebring 215
Seminole County 250
St. Lucie County 218
Tampa 79
Volusia/Flagler County 198
Listed alphabetically. This list may not be reproduced in any format without written permission from the publisher.

Florida's Free Trade Zones - 2011
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CSX Intermodal
Trade officials say Florida needs more intermodal railroads to pick up cargo at ports.

> Challenge: Infrastructure

Retaining business, say trade officials, will require significant investments in ports and transportation infrastructure. These days "speed to market" is the top concern for manufacturers, says Michael Hopkins, vice president of Latin American operations for Crowley Liner Services, which has terminals at Port Everglades and Jaxport. But Florida's interior transportation infrastructure isn't always efficient at moving cargo into and out of airports and seaports. "Florida is currently one of the most difficult states to get around in physically," says Michael Cavendish, a Jacksonville attorney with Gunster and chairman of both the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and the Northeast Florida Regional Transportation Study Commission.

Among needed changes, officials say:

  • More intermodal railroads picking up cargo on port docks
  • Better road connections between airports and seaports and major highways
  • Uniform highway tolls
  • Widening I-95

> Challenge: Coordination

Trains and trucks that cart goods into Florida return north largely empty — excess capacity that is an opportunity for importers to move their cargo northward inexpensively. Inbound freight tonnage, according to the Florida Chamber Foundation study, is 80% larger than outbound tonnage. That makes the state a potentially attractive location for major retailers' warehouse and distribution sites, says Joel Haka, executive vice president and COO of Florida East Coast Railway.

"Our relationship with Latin America is what gives us an edge in foreign direct investment. But having too many eggs in one basket, especially when that basket is in the developing world, can be troubling."
—Manny Mencia,
Enterprise Florida
[Photo: Daniel Portnoy]

But, he says, attracting those retailers and the ocean cargo lines that carry goods for them will require a coordinated, statewide strategy that includes marketing and the use of financial incentives.

> Challenge: Diversify Export Destinations

TD Bank economist Alistair Bentley says that boosting high-value exports such as aviation, photonics and biomedical technology would help grow the state's manufacturing sector. Manny Mencia, Enterprise Florida's senior vice president and COO for international trade and development, believes one of the fastest ways to grow exports is to help current exporters expand to more countries.More than 60% of Florida's exports ship to Latin America and the Caribbean. Mencia says Florida's top priority must remain its relationship with that region, but the state also needs to increase trade with other markets, particularly Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.

Florida's Airports
Airport Commercial Passengers (2010)
Miami International Airport 35,029,106
Orlando International Airport 34,288,697
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport 22,412,627
Tampa International Airport 16,645,765
Southwest Florida International Airport (Fort Myers) 7,380,596
Palm Beach International Airport 5,864,910
Jacksonville International Airport 5,601,500
Pensacola Regional Airport 1,439,740
Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport 1,332,680
Orlando Sanford International Airport 1,165,435
Northwest Florida Regional Airport (Eglin AFB) 800,000*
St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport 776,535
Tallahassee Regional Airport 684,916
Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (Panama City Beach) 677,587
Key West International Airport 566,889
Daytona Beach International Airport 476,558
Melbourne International Airport 345,399
Gainesville Regional Airport 298,504
Charlotte County Airport / Punta Gorda Airport 182,423
Source: Airports *Estimate. This list may not be reproduced in any format without written permission from the publisher.

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Florida's Airports- 2011
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