Orland Business Journal – You may head to Costa Rica for the surfing, white water rafting and zip-lining through the jungles, but there may be business opportunities waiting for you in this Latin American country with a gross domestic product of $41 billion.

With an eye on capturing some of that market and luring investment to the region, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando is planning a trade mission to Costa Rica in July.

The chamber, which sponsored a trade mission to Colombia in August, is partnering with the Canaveral Port Authority and JetBlue Airways on the July trip.

“We need to let other people in the world know that Central Florida is ready to do business,” Diana Bolivar, president of the chamber, told me following a seminar the organization hosted in the National Entrepreneur Center on doing business with Costa Rica.

The chamber, which has 10 of the 20 slots committed for the July 10-14 trade mission, hopes to open doors and establish relationships with Costa Rican companies looking to do business with Orlando companies and invest in Central Florida.

Although exports from Florida to Costa Rica of $2.07 billion were down 1.1 percent in 2012, imports of goods from that country were up 68 percent to nearly $6 billion.

Costa Rica exported 220,000 tons to Central and North Florida, but those regions exported only 30,000 tons to the country. Port Canaveral, which is trying to boost its cargo business, believes the country could be a “significant opportunity” for Orlando companies.

“Costa Rica is a prime target for Port Canaveral,” Shannon Feeley, assistant director of cargo business development for the Canaveral Port Authority, told those attending the seminar.

Costa Rica in Miami. Photo: Facebook
Costa Rica in Miami. Photo: Facebook

Companies involved in medical and dental equipment, building products, and hotel and restaurant products have the best chance of selling to Costa Rica, said Paul Mitchell, regional manager of international trade development for aviation, aerospace and defense trade programs at Enterprise Florida.

While there are opportunities to develop export markets, Mitchell cautioned those attending the seminar not to expand overseas unless they have the time and money to commit to building those markets.

Building relationships in Costa Rica is key to doing business, according to Jose H. Silva, a financial adviser in the Ormond Beach office of Edward Jones who spent 12 years in the Latin American nation as a business management consultant.

“The ones who are successful are the ones who make and invest in relationships,” Silva told those attending the seminar.

Source: Orlando Business Journal

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