MANATEE: Connecting Colombia’s agriculture companies with new ports of entry is one step in helping the country recover from a half-century of war. Last year, the Colombian government was able to “sign a peace agreement with actually the oldest guerrilla in the hemisphere,” said Juan Camilo Barrera, agribusiness director for ProColombia, a Colombian government entity based in Miami that is tasked with promoting trade, tourism and the country’s brand. Barrera presented at Thursday’s Manatee County Port Authority meeting to showcase the growth in Colombia’s agribusiness sector and how Port Manatee can be a potential partner in furthering the industry.
Colombia already ships coffee, fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables to the U.S. through ports in Miami, Houston and Philadelphia, as well as Port Manatee. But Barrera sees a unique opportunity for Port Manatee within the Colombian government’s current three products of focus: cocoa, processed fruits and vegetables, and avocados. “I think Port Manatee could be poised to represent an alternative for Colombia to reach the U.S. market in an easier way than other ports that we have been traditionally working with, especially for newer products,” Barrera said. “It’s interesting to find more and more when (Colombian companies) think about the state, they’re no longer thinking about just Miami or Port Everglades or traditional entry points, but they want to know more about Florida as a whole.”