At a time of record trade deficits, Hispanic exporters are proving U.S. goods can sell in the global marketplace. The 2004 Hispanic Business Top 50 Exporters increased total export revenues 17.5 percent from the previous year, to a record $1.78 billion. Four companies on the list doubled their export sales, led by Miami-based telecom provider Latin Node, with 400 percent growth.
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Half of the companies on this year's list come from Florida, accounting for nearly 81 percent of the list's total export revenues. California follows with seven companies, while Texas has four. But Michigan – with only three companies – places second in the export-revenue tally.
The South Florida economy has a history of producing mega-exporters, exemplified by the top two companies on this year's Top 50 Exporters list. Cellular telephone distributor Brightstar Corp., the No. 1 company on the directory, reports foreign sales of $620 million for 2003, a 31.4 percent increase from the previous year. Pharmed, the second company on the list, sold $489 million worth of medical equipment and supplies in the international market. Together, the firms account for 62.4 percent of the Top 50 Exporters' total export revenues.
"Being in Miami, we have the capacity to ship to most places in the Caribbean and Latin America, and the shipment time is fairly quick," explains Luis Quintero, purchasing director for Tire Group International, No. 7 on the Top 50 Exporters directory. "Another key issue when it comes to exporting is the ease of communication in terms of language and knowledge of the idiosyncrasies of the people in the markets."
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Florida' geopolitical location and local culture also make it a gateway to not only Latin America but the world. European companies have turned to Florida-based companies to handle their business in Latin America, and multinational corporations have moved international divisions to the state to take advantage of its communications systems, transportation infrastructure, and labor pool.
Overall, the wholesale industry continues to dominate the Top 50 Exporters list, comprising 23 companies with $1.5 billion in export revenue, a 24-percent gain from the previous year. The manufacturing sector, although represented by two fewer companies than in the 2003 list, saw export revenue increase nearly 16 percent. However, other sectors showed a decline in exporting revenues in this year' listing, suggesting that the U.S. exporting industry should play to its strengths by targeting niches where it holds a competitive advantage.
This marks the fourth straight year of increasing revenues for the Top 50 after a decline from 1998 to 1999. Revenues for the list have increased a dramatic 200 percent since the low of $590 million in 1999. Since just last year, the minimum revenue required to make the list has increased 60 percent to $2 million, indicating the Hispanic export economy is growing at the bottom, as well as the top.