Miami Herald, Jan. 19, 2006
Peru endorsed Miami as site of free trade pact secretariat
By TYLER BRIDGES
LIMA - President Alejandro Toledo on Thursday endorsed Miami as the headquarters for a proposed free trade secretariat as Florida Gov. Jeb Bush completed a two-day trade visit to Ecuador and Peru.
Bush’s main goals on the trip were winning the support of Toledo and Ecuadorean President Alfredo Palacio for Miami, and promoting Florida trade and investment.
’’It’s the best location,’’ Toledo said during a news conference Thursday, ``it has a strong economy and it has strong economic ties with the region.’’
In an earlier speech, Toledo called Florida ``the port of entry for Latin America in the United States.’’
Palacio on Wednesday gave a more qualified expression of support for Miami.
Efforts to create the hemispheric-wide trade agreement have stalled with opposition from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The other countries that have voiced support for making Miami the administrative hub of the Free Trade Area of the Americas include Uruguay, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Peru was the 15th country that Bush has visited during his seven years in office as governor.
Bush found an enthusiastic Toledo in his call for free trade throughout Latin America.
Peru under Toledo recently signed a free trade agreement with the United States that will take effect upon ratification by the congresses of both countries.