Palmetto, Fla.-based Port Manatee and Chile are pursuing considerable opportunities to boost two-way trade, according to a Chilean official who visited the Central Florida Gulf Coast port.
“We’re looking forward to developing a closer commercial relationship,” Sacha Garafulic said in a news release. Garafulic is trade commissioner of Chile in his position as director of ProChile, the Chilean government’s export promotion organization.
Garafulic, who spoke at the Manatee County Port Authority’s meeting and toured the port on June 15, including the International Trade Hub at Port Manatee, said he believes the hub could serve as a launching pad for enhanced commercial ties.
“We could work together and develop closer relations between Port Manatee and Chilean companies, with the hub as one of the starting points,” he said, adding that the Miami-based Chile-U.S. Chamber of Commerce also could play an integral role.
Garafulic, who is based in Miami, said Chile is engaged in about $5 billion a year in trade with South Florida seaports and airports, with northbound salmon, wines and fresh fruit among key commodities, but in 2016 sent just $6.5 million of goods — mostly salts used in making fertilizer — to Port Manatee while receiving no exports from Port Manatee.
“Much opportunity for growth exists,” Garafulic said, noting that annual two-way trade between the U.S. and Chile has quadrupled since the U.S.-Chile Free-Trade Agreement began in 2004.
Chile offers “tremendous potential” for increased business with Port Manatee, Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director, said in the release.