At the request of Enterprise Florida Inc. (EFI), Seaboard’s Jose Perez-Jones helped lead a group of political and business leaders from throughout the state to Panama City, Panama earlier this week. The purpose of this high level trade mission was to develop strategies and discuss opportunities while meeting with leaders from the recently elected Panamanian Government and executives from Panamanian industries. Historically a strong trading partner of Florida, Panama’s economy continues to develop and mature as total merchandise trade between Panama and Florida surpassed $1.7 billion in 2008.  With the widening of the Panama Canal scheduled to be completed in 2014, and the pending TPA between Panama and the U.S., there will be tremendous opportunities for Florida businesses and seaports to increase their trade volumes with Panama.

One of the highlights of the trip was a group visit to the Miraflores lock at the Panama Canal. During that visit, a Seaboard vessel, the M/V Manuela was proudly crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean on her way to Peru and Chile (See photo with the Manuela in the background. Seaboard’s Perez-Jones is in the center with a yellow tie).

EFI is a public-private partnership serving as Florida’s primary organization devoted to statewide economic development. EFI’s mission is to diversify Florida’s economy and create better-paying jobs for its citizens by supporting, attracting and helping to create businesses in innovative and high-growth industries. Seaboard Marine is proud to support EFI, and the office of Governor Crist, in its efforts.