Panamanian Delegation Arrives in Tampa Bay for Trade Mission


May 6, 2015



TAMPA, Fla. / Panamanian government and business leaders will arrive in Tampa this evening for the start of a trade mission aimed at increasing trade and business opportunities between Panama and Tampa Bay companies. Participants in the inbound mission, organized by the American Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Panama (AmCham), the Tampa Bay Trade & Protocol Council, Tampa Bay Export Alliance, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Florida will spend two full days attending meetings, events and site visits before returning to Panama on Saturday.
 
“Each time our local delegation has traveled to Panama, AmCham Panama has been there to welcome us and facilitate critical meeting with key industry leaders in Panama. Now it is our turn to welcome them to Tampa,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn, City of Tampa. “Over the last four years, we developed a strong working partnership with Panama, and I look forward to strengthening that relationship during this visit to our community.”
 
”AmCham Panama is very excited about leading our first official outbound trade mission to Tampa Bay,” said Robert St. John, President of the American Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Panama. “Since Copa began serving Panama City with nonstop flights to Tampa in 2013, we have hosted Tampa Bay business leaders in Panama many times. We are thrilled to have this great opportunity to now bring our business and government leaders to Tampa Bay.”
 
The mission agenda includes one-on-one prospect meetings customized for delegates’ specific business needs, informational briefings, and networking events with a variety of Tampa Bay business organizations. Delegates represent a variety of industry sectors including logistics, tourism, health and research & development.
 
Highlights include:
* A welcome reception hosted by the Consul General of Panama in Tampa
* Site visits in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, including stops at Port Tampa Bay, the University of South Florida’s Tech Park and CAMLS, local companies BECK , VoltAir Consulting Engineers, and others
* A separate tourism agenda organized by Visit Tampa Bay, including Convention Center, major hotel chains and services matchmakers
* A networking luncheon with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce
* The Tampa Bay Export Alliance’s International Town Hall on May 8
* A “Doing Business with Panama” luncheon immediately following the International Town Hall
* A Tampa Bay Rays baseball game.
 
At the “Doing Business with Panama” luncheon, which is open and complimentary to attendees registered for the International Town Hall, guests will have the opportunity to hear from Panama’s top trade, investment and tourism officials, get an overview of specific business opportunities between Tampa Bay and Panama, and meet all members of the Panama trade delegation. His Excellency, Mr. Jesus Sierra, Panama’s Minister of Tourism, will provide an overview of the tourism and hospitality industry in Panama. Mrs. Essie Mastellari, National Director of Investment Promotion for Panama’s Ministry of Commerce, will deliver a commercial and economic outlook for the country. The luncheon, which is sponsored by the Panama Tourism Authority and Parque Logístico (Toyota Group), will wrap up with a panel of leaders from Panama’s special economic zones, who will explain how these areas work and how businesses can benefit from using them.
 
Other speakers include:
* Robert St. John, President, The American Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Panama
* Dr. Jorge Arosemena, Executive Director, City of Knowledge
* Mr. Arisitides Chiriatti, CEO, Colon Import and Export, Colon Free Zone
* Mr. Leo Gonzalez, Administrator, Panama Pacifico Agency, Special Export Processing Zone
* Mr. C.E. Maurice Belanger, Executive Director, AMCHAM
 
“We are honored to welcome His Excellency Mr. Jesus Sierra, Mrs. Mastellari, the American Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Panama, and the entire Panama delegation to Tampa Bay,” said Rick Homans, President and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. “Our business and tourism activity with Panama grows more robust each year, and we look forward to strengthening our commercial ties with the delegation’s visit here.”
 
“This is a great opportunity for our local companies to learn more about Panama, and how the special economic zones can benefit companies,” said Mike Meidel, Director of Pinellas County Economic Development. We had a very productive visit to Panama, so we’re looking forward to expanding this relationship and hosting the delegation in Tampa Bay.” Thanks to Copa Airlines, which began nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to Panama City, Panama in 2013, this inbound mission will mark the fourth time that business and government leaders from Tampa Bay have had the opportunity to convene with their counterparts in Panama. On December 17, 2013, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and a group of Tampa Bay business and tourism leaders departed for Panama City on Copa’s inaugural flight from Tampa to Panama City. In February and October 2014, the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation and the Tampa Bay Export Alliance led delegations to Panama. Those missions, as well as other recent ones to Chile and Brazil, are part of a series of significant trips Tampa Bay government and business leaders have taken to Latin America to strengthen commercial opportunities and relationships in the region.
 
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About The Tampa Bay Export Alliance:
The Tampa Bay Export Alliance (TBEA) is a partnership between Pinellas County Economic Development and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, formed in 2014 to grow jobs and capital investment by increasing the international export of products and services within the bi-county area. The TBEA conducts joint export activities, such as seminars, trade events and trade missions, and supports the export-related growth initiatives of regional economic partners, including Tampa International Airport and Port Tampa Bay. To learn more, visit www.tampabayexportalliance.com.
 
About The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation:
The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation is the lead economic development agency for Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace. Established in 2009 as a partnership between the public sector and private corporate investors, the EDC works to develop and sustain a thriving local economy through the attraction, retention, and expansion of high-wage jobs and capital investment within targeted industry sectors. Working with C-level executives, site selection consultants, commercial real estate professionals and other influential decision makers, the EDC provides customized, confidential relocation services to domestic and international companies interested in growing within Hillsborough County. Locally, the EDC helps existing businesses access the tools and resources they need to succeed, now and in the future.
 
About Pinellas County Economic Development:
Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED) works with existing businesses to encourage expansion and seeks to attract new companies with high-wage careers to our community. Through investment tools, business classes, professional consulting services, trade missions to open new markets, and strategic partnerships, PCED fosters a pro-business environment and promotes the Ideal Business Climate of Pinellas County, Florida.

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