FLatin Connection: Watch out, Miami: Houston is on its way up …

Watch out, Miami: Houston is on its way up as a top trading partner with Latin America.

While Miami still holds the title as the gateway to Latin America, Houston’s strong oil industry has resulted in it surpassing Miami as the top trading partner for many countries, WorldCity President Ken Roberts said at a Trade Connections event. These include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica, and, if trends continue, Miami could lose its No. 1 status with Peru by next year, Roberts added.

According to WorldCity’s 2012 Miami Trade Numbers publication, Brazil remains the top trading partner with the Miami Customs District, which stretches from Port St. Lucie to the Florida Keys. However, after 15 years as Brazil’s top trading partner, Miami was overtaken by Houston, which had $400 million more in trade with the country.

Nonetheless, the Miami district still dominates in technology exports such as laptops, cellphones and aviation parts bound for Latin America.

Local companies also fare well in exporting specific products.

With countries such as Guatemala having more cellphones than people, Doral-based Intcomex focuses solely on providing IT products to Latin American and Caribbean countries.

In addition, Miami Lakes-based DemeTech Corp., a provider of surgical sutures and blades, has been able to thrive in the medical industry abroad because the preference for products made in America has grown, Chairman and CEO Luis Arguello Sr. said at the event, which was also hosted by the Doral Business Council and the Florida Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association.

The Miami Customs District also fared extremely well in 2011, surpassing $100 billion in trade for the first time, WorldCity reported. Total trade reached $112 billion, of which $69 billion was exports and $42 billion was imports. In addition, Miami leads the nation in the computer and cell phone exports, Roberts said. 

(SouthFloridaBusinessJournal/Torres)

Florida Latin Connection/ Varona

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