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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott heads to Brazil for trade mission



Gov. Rick Scott departs late today on a seven-day trip to Brazil, where he will promote Florida to its biggest trading partner and a South American economic powerhouse.

Scott, who has made jobs and economic development the focus of his administration, was embarking on the third trade mission in 10 months in office. Former Gov. Charlie Crist took only two trips in his first year in office.

Scott says the trips will help in the long run.

“Basically what you do is you build relationships,” said Scott. “Some of the relationships are with the government. Some of the relationships are with individuals. The end result is, if two groups can figure out how they can solve each other’s needs, that is something that is going to happen and we’re going to get more jobs here.”

Brazil is already Florida’s top export market. In 2010, exports led primarily by the shipment of civilian aircraft, engines and parts from Florida to Brazil were $13.7 billion, according to Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development arm.

Scott’s trip will take him first to Rio de Janeiro where he will visit a major trade show of Brazilian travel agents. Last year more than 1 million Brazilians traveled to the state, making Brazil second only to the United Kingdom. Visits from Brazil were up 43 percent during the first half of the year and spending also increased 61 percent during that same time period.

Scott will then travel to Sao Paulo at the head of a delegation of nearly 200 people, half of them from South Florida, including Broward County Mayor Suzanne Gunzberger, the directors of both ports, officials from the University of Miami and the president of Broward College, the president of the Latin Builders Association and other officials from various business groups, banks, law firms and companies such as Florida Power & Light and Pollo Tropical.

Scott said he plans to spend most of his time in Sao Paulo meeting with companies that do business in Florida or are considering it. He also will inaugurate a business matchmaking and trade expo put together by Enterprise Florida.

Manny Mencia, Enterprise Florida’s senior vice president of international trade and business development, said Wednesday that international trade is one of the state’s strongest economic sectors and accounts for 16 percent of the state’s economy and nearly 1 out of every 6 jobs. Florida is the nation’s fourth-largest exporter.

Scott visited Panama and Canada earlier this year. In Canada, Scott met with more than 130 companies, while his visit to Panama focused mainly on the expansion of the Panama Canal.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 20, 2011 9:35am]


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