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Globally, we're a mere blip

A study shows state's trade and investment lag other economies.

By James Thorner, Times Staff Writer
Published March 15, 2007


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Buenos Aires, Toronto and Munich outperform Florida in more areas than tango, hockey and beer drinking. They also hold a hefty advantage in foreign trade and investment.

An Enterprise Florida study on global economic competitiveness suggests Florida lags in those two gauges of economic vitality.

The study measured Florida against six hemispheric competitors - Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Panama, Chile and Brazil - and eight global "benchmarks" - China, Germany, Great Britain, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and Spain.

While Florida's per capita income is higher, its trade and investment are a tiny share of the state's economy.

Exports of goods and services stood at about 8 percent of the state's total economic output. For hemispheric competitors, the number was 35 percent. For world competitors, it was 49 percent.

The figures were more lopsided for foreign investment, which accounted for 5 percent of the state's economy. Foreign investment represented 41 percent of economic output in the hemisphere and 74 percent in the rest of the world.

Sena Black, Enterprise's vice president of marketing, said her agency took a risk by comparing full-fledged nations with a single U.S. jurisdiction. But if Florida's claim to be an international player means anything, it has to compete against more than Georgia and North Carolina, she said.

If Florida were an independent country, its $750-billion economy would rank 19th in the world. Combined imports and exports exceed $100-billion, and the 1,200 foreign companies own $32-billion worth of property in the state.

"We really set very, very high standards. We opened ourselves up," Black said of the 25-page study that took months to complete. "We believe we have to take a good, hard look at ourselves."

Black called results positive overall and noted that of the goods the state did export, about a third were high-tech, a higher percentage claimed by any nation in the study but Singapore.

As the state's main business-recruitment agency, Enterprise Florida will use the positive parts of the study to market the state overseas, and the negative aspects to lobby the Legislature for a new research-and-development tax credit to entice more foreign manufacturers.

James Thorner can be reached at thorner@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3313.

Fast Facts:

Markets, investors

The top five countries Florida exports its products to: Brazil, Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia.

The top five countries or regions that invest directly in Florida: Canada, United Kingdom, Latin America and the Caribbean, Germany and Australia.

Source: Enterprise Florida

[Last modified March 14, 2007, 22:50:04]


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