Miami gets big boost from Washington
By John Collins (1)
2003 Ministerial Meeting scheduled for U.S.; venue to be decided in Quito,
Ecuador this week.
MIAMI, Florida – As the goal of hemispheric free trade by the year
2005, envisioned in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), nears, the big
stakes involved in where the ministerial summit will be held next year and what
city will be chosen as the permanent seat of the secretariat, increase.
is making a big push for both and is getting a big boost from Washington. That
doesn’t surprise political observers in Florida because Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is
brother of President George W. Bush and the president has been to Florida 11
times this year to bolster the candidacy for reelection of his younger brother.
Of course, the choice of
where the FTAA ministerial summit will be held next year and what city will be
chosen to be the permanent seat of the secretariat will ultimately be made in a
democratic fashion by the 34 countries of the hemisphere.
The immediate challenge for
Miami is to snare the FTAA ministerial summit next year, which must be held in
the U.S as previously decided. Also determined in advance is that the last
summit in 2004 will be held in Brazil.
I join my fellow ministers negotiating the FTAA in Quito, I will propose that
the U.S. host the next ministerial meeting – in 2003 – and, if our hosts agree,
that we do so right here in Miami,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick
told the recent Miami Herald Americas Conference (CB Oct. 24).
Considering it a fait
accompli, Gov. Bush thanked Zoellick for announcing that the 2003 round of
ministerial negotiations will be held in Miami. “It has long been considered the
Gateway to the Americas – serving as a cultural, economic and political hub for
Latin America and the Caribbean,” said the governor. “The 2003 ministerial
negotiations provide us yet another opportunity to showcase our state and why
Miami should be the ideal location for the FTAA Permanent (seat).”
As previously reported
Atlanta (CB August 22) also wants that second plum, the permanent FTAA
headquarters. There are reports that Miami and Atlanta will both be currying
favor at the Quito summit, where the decision on the 2003 summit will be made,
and are mounting large delegations to achieve their goal of twin prizes.
Atlanta is a late comer to
the contest but its candidacy is being pushed by an impressive corporate roster
including Delta Airlines. The challenge of Atlanta belatedly resulted in the
formation of an alliance in Miami between the local governments and the three
major private sector organizations and they are moving ahead at full speed.
of dollars in business
At stake is not just the
prestige involved but the resulting millions of dollars that delegates from
throughout the hemisphere will bring with them. “I strongly believe that Miami
is the ideal location for the FTAA’s Permanent Secretariat,” said Mayor Manuel
A. Diaz. “Miami has long been recognized as one of the great global hubs for
trade and commerce, international finance and foreign investment, and is located
near major land, air and sea transportation centers.”
Recalling that the FTAA was
first conceived in Miami in 1994 during the Summit of the Americas, Diaz said
“it will represent around 800 million people and a collective annual gross
domestic product of approximately $14 trillion in goods and services, the
largest trading bloc in the world.”
While Atlanta is the major
challenger to Miami for next year’s summit, it is joined by other candidates
vying for the permanent secretariat in 2005. They include Houston, a late
starter, and three venues elsewhere in the hemisphere. Mexico reportedly is
hardly promoting Puebla but Panama City is conducting a respectable campaign
reportedly hoping to be a compromise site if there is a deadlock between the two
major U.S. contenders. Although it has the 14 votes of the Caribbean Community
members pledged, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad is not viewed as a serious contender.
geographic position, its unsurpassed commercial aviation infrastructure,
sophisticated communications, multilingual work force and excellent quality of
life make it ideally positioned to serve as ‘the Brussels of the Western
Hemisphere,’” said Gov. Bush. “I firmly believe that Miami, with its
multi-cultural population hailing from every nation of the Americas and strong
cultural ties to the hemisphere, is the city that best reflects the dream of
A number of observers feel that if Miami gets
the 2003 ministerial it stands a very strong chance of capturing the permanent
secretariat for 2005. They point to the aggressive and targeted posture it is
currently maintaining as indicative of what it can do when all of its
considerable talents and resources are mustered together, not to mention the
support of the Bush administration in Washington.
Other articles by the well known Caribbean author John Collins can be read
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October 27, 2002