Port Manatee, Guatemala seek to grow trade
PALMETTO, Florida - Port Manatee and Guatemala are seeking to build upon their already significant relationship in the wake of a visit from a Guatemalan trade commissioner.
"Port Manatee is already an important hub for Guatemalan imports and exports, and we see substantial prospects for growth in this relationship," Dunia Miranda-Mauri, Guatemala's Miami-based trade commissioner, said Thursday [May 18].
Mirandi-Mauri, who spoke at the Manatee County Port Authority meeting and at a luncheon hosted by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, added, "We look forward to building upon the present trade foundation between our nation and Port Manatee."
Already ranked among Port Manatee's top five trade partners, Guatemala exports fresh bananas, pineapples, melons and plantains, as well as frozen pineapple juice, into Port Manatee, while imports to Guatemala from the Central Florida Gulf Coast port are led by Kraft linerboard, vehicles, auto parts and lubricating oils.
Vanessa Baugh, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, said she welcomes the opportunity to enhance commercial ties between Port Manatee and Central America's most populous nation.
"Not only do we anticipate building on the volumes of northbound produce and southbound linerboard and vehicles," Baugh said, "but we foresee the addition of other commodities as well."
Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee's executive director, commented, "We are encouraged by the interest shown by the Guatemalan representative and share in a commitment to working together to strengthen our mutually valued ties."
Mirandi-Mauri's trip to Manatee County is among several such in-person visits to be coordinated by the International Trade Hub at Port Manatee since it began operation in 2014 to boost worldwide links for the county, port and local business interests.
Located "Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico," Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while supporting more than 24,000 jobs, without levying ad-valorem taxes.
Guatemalan Trade Commissioner Dunia Miranda-Mauri, right, talks about expanding trade ties with, from left, Vanessa Baugh, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, and Carlos Buqueras, executive director of Port Manatee.