Following the modernized trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) is expanding its trade facilitation service to these border countries. The Virtual Business Matchmaking program is designed to help Florida’s small and medium-sized companies continue doing business overseas even as international travel is restricted and traditional marketing events are extremely limited.
“International trade continues to support millions of jobs for Florida’s export and import businesses,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “The expansion of Enterprise Florida’s Virtual Business Matchmaking program will provide Florida businesses the opportunity to engage new international markets and build their global client base with a reimbursable grant. This program is another example of how Florida is safely helping companies get back to work.”
“Enterprise Florida is excited to innovate our international trade and development programs by also offering a grant for Virtual Business Matchmaking,” said Jamal Sowell, Florida Secretary of Commerce and President & CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc. “We are going to help a lot of small Florida businesses put their quality-made products and parts into the North American marketplace, despite the roadblocks that the COVID-19 pandemic created for them.”
Already available in 12 European countries, the Virtual Business Matchmaking program will now support the state’s exporters to reach new and existing customers in markets neighboring the United States. Both Mexico and Canada are signatories to the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), which entered into force on July 1, 2020.
The USMCA modernized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and supports robust and more balanced reciprocal trade between the three countries with significant advantages for Florida exporters.
The Virtual Business Matchmaking service includes virtual introductions via teleconference or videoconference of up to five interested agents, distributors, or partners in various target markets who have been pre-screened and pre-qualified. EFI’s trade grant will cover the full cost of the matchmaking on a reimbursable basis, making the service completely free.
Florida companies have two options, depending on their market of interest.
- Virtual Business Matchmaking will be provided by EFI’s international representatives through the Virtual Export Concierge Service. This service is currently offered in the European markets of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, and now in USMCA signatories Canada and Mexico. In each market or region, EFI’s international representatives will connect Florida companies with five pre-qualified partners/distributors through teleconference or videoconference.
- Similar services are offered in additional markets through Enterprise Florida’s partnership with the U.S. Commercial Service and their International Partner Search Plus Virtual Introductions. The U.S. Commercial Service program includes virtual introductions with up to five pre-qualified contacts, with options for additional introductions.
As the second and third largest destinations for Florida-origin exports, Mexico and Canada play a key role in helping Florida’s international business community succeed.
With growth of 14.6 percent in 2019, Canada received $4.3 billion of Florida-origin exports, while $3.3 billion worth of goods were shipped to Mexico. In addition to being major trade partners, both countries invest heavily in Florida, creating jobs and an economic boost for the state. Canada is Florida’s most important economic partner overall, and is the state’s second-largest global foreign investor, supporting 44,700 Florida jobs. Mexico is the state’s largest Latin American investor, creating another 5,200 jobs.
Businesses interested in learning more about the new Virtual Business Matchmaking service or the trade grant, can contact one of Enterprise Florida’s Regional Trade Managers for more information.