Florida, Already Leading the Way
Companies planning to take advantage of the new commercial opportunities opened for them by the United States-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement need to consider from where they will do so. In the United States there is only one state that has the access experience, and resources to facilitate a company’s venture into any of the CAFTA countries—Florida.
CAFTA marks the opening of a new era of trade between the United States and the six other member countries—Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. For Florida, it really represents an opportunity to build upon what is already a leadership position. No other state possesses the actual experience or specific physical and human assets to accommodate trading with this region. Long recognized as the primary location for U.S. trade with the CAFTA countries, Florida’s strategic location, state-of-the-art infrastructure, multi-lingual workforce and concentration of corporate and financial resources have propelled Florida to the forefront of global trade with countries in the Americas.
Since it is the principal commercial gateway between the CAFTA countries and the rest of the world, Florida knows this region. Nearly a third of the CAFTA countries’ total merchandise trade with the rest of the world passes through Florida, as does about 42% of their merchandise trade with the United States. In turn, these countries account for one-fifth of Florida’s total worldwide merchandise trade.
Annual exports of Florida-made goods to the CAFTA countries range from $4 to $5 billion, the highest of the 50 states by a wide margin. This represents about nearly a tenth of the state’s total exports and about a fifth of all U.S. goods exported to the CAFTA countries. Collectively, the countries of CAFTA are one of Florida’s largest export destinations. Even individually, each one of the CAFTA markets stands as a major destination for Florida origin exports. The Dominican Republic, for example, is Florida’s seventh largest export market, receiving shipments totaling between $1.4 and $1.6 billion annually. Likewise, all six CAFTA countries individually rank among Florida’s top 50 worldwide merchandise trading partners.
With the implementation of CAFTA, Florida’s prominence in trade with the six CAFTA countries is becoming even greater. In the first couple of years of the treaty's implementation , Florida’s exports to these markets increased by a billion dollars. By the end of the first decade of the agreement, Florida’s exports are expected to have increased by an additional $3 billion annually.