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International Trade a Boon for Florida's Economy

Since the early days of humanity, people have traded for goods or services that they needed. In today’s world, the power of trade has been magnified and, with the rise of technology, has made many around the world better off. With the global economy expected to double in the next 20 years, it is crucial that Florida continues to take advantage of the opportunities presented by international trade.

Harnessing its economic prowess and access to the world’s top ports, Florida has become the 7th largest exporter in the country, with Brazil, Canada and Switzerland being the top markets for Sunshine State goods. Additionally, Florida’s exports accounted for 7.4 percent of state GDP in 2013, and the state has seen its exports grow more than 10 percent since 2003.

Florida’s exports aren’t the only economic metric that have been boosted by the state’s increased trading portfolio. As a result of Florida’s trading partnerships with their home countries, foreign businesses have poured millions into the state in direct investments that have resulted in new opportunities for Floridians and accounts for about 17 percent of the state’s economic activity.

International trade also plays a large role in job creation and has created millions of jobs directly and indirectly related to trade. International trade supports more than 2.4 million jobs for Floridians and the percent of jobs tied to trade has increased from 10.9 percent in 1992 to 22.7 percent in 2013. Without trade, Florida’s job market would be vastly different and many Floridians would be left without a job.

International trade should grow even further as barriers to trade, both physical and policy, are knocked down. A great example of this is the widening of the Panama Canal. Prior to the improvements to the canal, many larger cargo ships were unable to pass through the canal. This prompted many U.S.-bound ships to unload on the west coast of the United States. With the expansion, these ships will now be able to dock at Florida ports, boosting our economy further. The widening of the canal will result in more than $7 billion pouring into Miami’s local economy alone. That number is expected to be much larger on a state-wide level.

It is clear that international trade is a crucial component of Florida’s economy. In order for Florida to remain competitive in the global marketplace, it should find new strategic trading partnerships, shore up its transportation infrastructure, and entice businesses overseas to establish themselves in the Sunshine State. Doing so would allow Florida to remain among the leaders in international trade and continue to diversify the state economy.

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