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Bush: Miami best spot for trade hub

The governor lobbies for the city in its quest to be home to the Free Trade Area of the Americas group.

By Associated Press
Published October 7, 2003

MIAMI - Gov. Jeb Bush is devoting more and more time to being a big salesman of Miami as the ideal site for the headquarters of the yet-to-be created free trade area covering the Western Hemisphere.

Despite an increasingly uncertain outlook for the creation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas by the January 2005 deadline, Bush has kept up his lobbying.

So far, his efforts helped Miami get the endorsement of Uruguay as the home of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, set for creation in January 2005. He also went to the Dominican Republic last month on a trade mission but got no official commitment.

Miami is up against Atlanta, Panama City, Panama; Puebla, Mexico; and Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. A decision is not expected until next year, but Miami is still lacking one key endorsement - that of the governor's brother, President Bush.

The governor said Monday his brother's backing would come "at the right time," but added: "I do believe that the merits of Miami make it clear on their own that this is the logical place."

For example, Bush pointed to Miami's cultural diversity and prominent role as the major hub of trade between the United States and Latin America.

Bush said he hoped next month's meeting in Miami of trade ministers from the 34 countries involved in the FTAA negotiations will convince those nations of the area's strengths. Apart from the five cities in the race, others have until the meeting's start Nov. 20 to submit their bids.

Bush made his latest lobbying effort Monday. He toured the North American headquarters of Chilean airline LanChile in Miami and spoke to about 200 people at a Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

He said LanChile was a prime example of the multilateral benefits of free trade. Chile and the United States have negotiated such an agreement, which Bush said was essential to bringing 900 new jobs to Florida and helping the airline's expansion at home.

While Bush and his brother's administration have high hopes for the FTAA, recent trade negotiations have run into roadblocks. This weekend, the United States and Brazil, two of the biggest FTAA negotiators, continued their disputes concerning the scope of the proposed trade bloc.

Brazil has proposed negotiating smaller accords before creating a hemisphere-wide agreement, something the Bush administration opposes.

South America's largest economy also wants the United States to cut subsidies to American farmers in exchange for allowing companies from developed nations to invest more freely in poorer countries.

[Last modified October 7, 2003, 02:33:49]

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