The Port of Miami has earned recognition from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

Port of Miami receives customs designationIn early February, the agency honored the Miami port with its “Center of Excellence and Expertise in Agriculture and Prepared Products.”

The recognition focuses on the port’s centralized import processing and ability to provide information for the entire trading community, according to the agency.

Eric Olafson, the port’s manager of intergovernmental affairs and cargo development, said the designation further solidifies the port’s status of being the gateway to the Americas for trade of perishables and other products between the U.S. and Latin America.

“Because we have more agricultural inspectors than any other Customs and Border Protection agency in the world, it’s a great marketing item for us as they’ve finally recognized what Miami is,” he said. “We have the warehouses, the cold storage, the logistics and are ideally positioned for this expansion in perishables.”

If a product encounters a problem with an unidentified pest or another problem preventing its importing, Olafson said the port can virtually connect with the Miami experts to hopefully resolve the issue.

About half of U.S. customs brokers and freight forwarders work in Florida, which provides the port additional advantages from the smallest shipments of apples to thousands of containers of Chilean grapes, Olafson said.

To help improve efficiencies, Olafson said the port is constructing a $1 billion tunnel providing direct highway connections from the island port to the interstate highway system.

Additionally, on-dock rail construction, expected to be completed by summer, should allow direct rail access, he said.