Port Manatee draws German consul general's interest
PALMETTO, Florida - Port Manatee holds promise as a trade gateway for German companies, according to Germany's Miami-based consul general, who visited the Florida Gulf Coast port Thursday [March 15].
"Port Manatee is an important part of Florida infrastructure," said Annette Klein, Germany's consul general for Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. "As German companies look for a U.S. port to meet their needs, it is important for us to be aware of such ports and their capabilities and objectives.
"Port Manatee has impressed me with the potential it holds," Klein said following a presentation at the Manatee County Port Authority's monthly board meeting and a visit to the International Trade Hub at Port Manatee.
German trade through Port Manatee has been limited, consisting primarily of imports of bulk materials used in the making of concrete at Florida operations, but Port Manatee officials are hopeful the commercial relationship will expand.
"By growing trade with Germany, Port Manatee can further build upon its impressive impacts upon our region's economy," said Vanessa Baugh, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority. "We look forward to exploration of mutually beneficial opportunities."
Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee's executive director, commented, "As Port Manatee continues its diverse growth, it is vital that we develop and nurture relationships with officials of countries and companies throughout the world. We are particularly appreciative of the visit from Germany's consul general, which we hope is just the beginning of a longstanding valued relationship."
The International Trade Hub at Port Manatee is in its fifth year of furnishing an essential link between foreign interests and Central and Southwest Florida markets that combine to put nearly 10 million consumers within a two-hour drive of Port Manatee while attracting some 100 million annual visitors.
In the past year, Port Manatee and its trade hub have hosted high-level officials from more than a dozen nations, including Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Peru and Spain.
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.
Annette Klein, Germany's Miami-based consul general, center, is recognized by Vanessa Baugh, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, left, and Port Manatee Executive Director Carlos Buqueras.