Employing the USMCA to Build Trade Between Florida and Mexico's Ports

(courtesy of the Florida Ports Council)

Published Jul 3, 2020 4:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

As the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) goes into effect, organizations are exploring how it can contribute to growth in maritime trade. Agreed to in October 2018, the USMCA builds on the previous NAFTA agreements focusing on auto exports, steel and aluminum tariffs, and commodities including dairy, eggs, and poultry. The new agreement went into effect on July 1, 2020.

The World Trade Center Miami recently participated in the first meeting of new the Florida/Mexico Working Group, which was formed in an agreement between the Florida Ports Council (FPC) and the Mexican Coordinadora de Puertos. The two organizations signed a letter of intent pledging to create a working group of twelve maritime commerce members from Mexico and Florida to grow maritime trade between the two entities.

“The establishment of this working group is a meaningful step towards significantly growing trade between Florida and Mexico,” said Alice Ancona, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of World Trade Center Miami. “The World Trade Center Miami is committed to growing two-way trade. In 2019, Florida's trade with Mexico was valued at over $10 billion, and in 2018, Mexico was Miami’s #1 trading partner.”  
Delegation members from Florida Ports Council, Enterprise Florida, and World Trade Center Miami traveled to Mexico City in July 2019 to promote the all-water trade route through Florida. Of Florida’s 15 deep-water seaports, eight sent representatives to Mexico, including those from Port Canaveral, JAXPORT, Port Manatee, PortMiami, Port Panama City, the Port of Pensacola, Port Everglades and Port Tampa Bay. FPC coordinated with Jonathan Chait Auerbach, the Consul General of Mexico in Miami, and Enterprise Florida’s Mexico City office to schedule meetings for the delegation with government officials and agencies, customs officials, and the Coordinadora de Puertos.
Héctor López Gutiérrez, Coordinador General de Puertos y Marina Mercante said, “For Mexico, sea routes including cabotage service and short-distance navigation are very important … for the ports of Florida and Central America, with which we have already started a new route, a very important panorama for the development of intermodal chains has opened up and is convenient for all the countries that are involved, and it helps to solve many of the problems that currently appear in the mentioned chains. So I hope that the integration of the working group and the participation of the ports and agencies that participate will make it a very successful project, we could even say exemplary, in regard to national and international trade.”

As a result of this initial dialogue, the two organizations agreed to form the working group and in November 2019 officially signed the letter of intent to establish the working group. Mexico has long been one of Florida’s strongest trading partners, according to FPC president and CEO Doug Wheeler but they believe the opportunity exists under the new USMCA to substantially growth bilateral waterborne trade between Mexico and Florida.

“The establishment of the working group, proposed in the Letter of Intent signed by the Merchant Marine and the Florida Ports Council last November, is an example of the commitment and interest of both parties to make this relationship an axis of trade and investment between Mexico and the United States,” said Jonathan Chiat Auerbach, the Consul General of Mexico in Miami. “The selection of the participants in the working group integrally represents the commercial potential between Mexico and Florida. Undoubtedly, taking advantage of the existing maritime border between both entities will bring with it an important benefit to the well-being of the people of both countries, and particularly in Mexico, the south-southeast region of the country.”
Working together the group will continue to explore ways to use the USMCA build trade.