Tampa Port Authority Director George Williamson announced
Mexico is the Port of Tampa's number one trading partner, leading the 13 other Florida ports
in trade with the state's southern NAFTA neighbor. The Port of Tampa transported
more than two million tons of goods in 2001, a 47 percent increase in Tampa-Mexico trade since 1999.
"Tampa has become Florida's gateway to Mexico," said Williamson, who addressed more than 200 Florida and Mexican business leaders at the
Mexico & Tampa Bay
: Trade and Tourism Ties Conference. "Businesses in Florida and Mexico have begun to take advantage of the waterways, realizing that shipping by sea is a better, safer, cleaner and less expensive method of transit."
Businesses relying on ground transportation
are considering other distribution alternatives, as trucking issues at the U.S.-Mexico border
intensify. The recent suit filed by labor, environment and trucking industry groups to keep Mexican trucks off U.S. roads has businesses questioning the future of shipping goods by land between the two countries.
"Crowded borders and the transfer of goods between trucks creates delays in distribution," continued Williamson. "Utilizing Tampa's maritime strengths, Tampa Bay can serve as the premiere hub for Mexican trade to Florida and the Eastern U.S.