Tampa Bay: Get Serious About International Trade

Some foreign countries are recovering from the recession faster than U.S. markets, so it is important that U.S. cities get more serious about doing international trade.

That was the main message during a working lunch on the role of international commerce in Florida's economic recovery held recently the Holiday Inn in Sarasota's Lakewood Ranch.

"Because of the fact that other parts of the world recover sooner than our markets, there are a lot of business opportunities to be found outside the borders of the United States," says Joe Kulenovic, senior direct of strategic and market analysis for Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development agency.

"International will be more significant going forward than in previous years," Kulenovic says.

The big, emerging economies, such as China, and Brazil, where the recession was extremely mild, are opportunity markets. In China, the rate of domestic product growth dipped, to 4 to 5 percent, down from 7 to 8 percent, but never turned negative. Enterprise Florida has been analyzing trade patterns and imports into these markets.

"Australia never had a recession," Kulenovic says. "Part of that was just luck. But it did do a lot of things right. From a macroeconomic standpoint, its real estate problem there was not fueled by debt. The banking system was very sound. The luck came through having abundant natural resources."

Future growth will be different than what we experienced in the past, Kulenovic emphasizes.

"In the past, people were flipping condos," Kulenovic says. "Now we need energy efficiency. We can't sit and wait for the rebound. As an economy in Florida, we really need to emphaize the production of trades and services. We just can't do local business. You will see slower growth in domestic markets when the economic  recovery is under way."

Writer: Dave Szymanski
Source: Joe Kulenovic, Enterprise Florida
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