Florida hosts United Kingdom for trade and economic partnership talks

by | May 3, 2024

Tallahassee hosted the first working group meeting under a new Memorandum of Understanding between the State of Florida and the United Kingdom, spearheaded by leaders from both regions, to bolster trade and economic ties across key sectors like aerospace, fintech, and life sciences.

Florida’s capital hosted the inaugural working group meeting between the United Kingdom and the Sunshine State this week, setting the stage for enhanced trade and economic relations under a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two.

The meeting, co-chaired by Rufus Drabble, His Majesty’s Consul General in Miami, and J. Alex Kelly, Florida Secretary of Commerce, highlighted the shared objectives of the two regions to expand their economic partnership. The discussions focused on aerospace, aviation, finance, insurance, health tech, transportation, and procurement sectors.

“Our discussions were focused and constructive and demonstrate our strong shared commitment to the strategic UK-FL partnership. We have an ambitious pipeline for the next 12 months and I look forward to collaborating with the State to leverage the MoU to open all doors to further expand our trade and investment,” said Consul General Rufus Drabble.

The meeting also covered future initiatives including the UK-Florida Life Sciences Trade Corridor and a delegation of UK space companies visiting Florida by the end of the year. Additionally, the UK will promote Florida as a key market entry point for fintech companies aiming to enter the US and Latin American markets.

Kelly noted the economic potential of the collaborative effort, stating, “The already impactful Florida-UK partnership is one that will show its job creation and investment possibilities at this summer’s Farnborough Air Show and trade missions to come.”

He also noted the six months of preparatory work by trade managers from both sides that led to the kickoff meeting. The UK is currently the top foreign investor in Florida.

The agreement, first reported on by The Capitolist in September, serves to enhance Florida’s economic connections with the UK. British companies are responsible for more than 70,000 jobs in Florida, holding assets worth around $80 billion in the state.

The partnership covers sectors including aerospace research and manufacturing, medical technology, financial technology, and emerging fields like artificial intelligence, concurrently promoting collaboration between Florida universities and UK educational institutions.

The UK has signed formal MOUs with several U.S. states including Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, and Washington, representing a combined GDP exceeding £2.2 trillion. The UK government is actively exploring similar partnerships with Texas, California, Colorado, and Illinois.

Bilateral trade between Florida and the UK reached $5.8 billion in 2022, reflecting a 119 percent growth over the past five years. Moreover, tourism between the two regions remains strong, with more than 1.1 million Britons visiting Florida in 2022, solidifying the UK’s status as one of Florida’s top sources of international visitors.


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