A Costa Rican business delegation visited south Florida ports to learn more about operations and how the public and private sectors can strengthen imports.

Costa Rican trade group tours Florida port operationsThe group of 16 public and private trade organization representatives toured Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Port Miami, the Miami Free Zone and cargo operations at Miami International Airport.

They also visited shipping and logistics companies, government officials and state and local business development officials.

A part of a Department of Commerce project funded by the State Department’s Pathways to Prosperity Initiative, the delegation observed U.S. customs and border management operations to learn how government and business work together to create efficient border flows, said Leah Markowitz, Pathways customs project manager.

“The visit gave the participants a strong overview of trade logistics and border operations in South Florida and the importance of the region for the overall trade with Costa Rica and Central America,” Markowitz said. “The group got a better appreciation how important Costa Rica-Florida trade has become, particularly with Port Everglades.”

The group learned more about Port Everglade’s expansion plans.

In 2011, Costa Rica was the seaport’s third-largest country for imports and second largest for exports, Markowitz and port officials said.

The port handles nearly 50,000 TEU or 20-foot equivalent units and 76% of the country’s waterborne trade with Florida, according to port officials.

“Central America, of which Costa Rica is a major component, is Port Everglades’ primary market and we intend to build on our success through infrastructure investments that will ensure that Port Everglades can handle larger vessels and higher volumes in the future,” said Glenn Wiltshire, the port’s deputy director, in a news release.