Brazil has been Florida’s number one international trading partner for years. In 2017, the two exchanged nearly $20 billion in goods and services, according to Enterprise Florida. Business owners from the Tampa Bay region recently traveled to Brazil.
James Spencer is the inventor of Crescent Womb, a baby bed that looks like a small hammock. It’s designed to mimic the sensation of being held. Spencer’s invention has drawn a lot of interest and media attention in the U.S., but he was looking to launch the product elsewhere. “Brazil historically has a high infant mortality rate. So this issue that we saw is on top of mind for a lot of parents there,” he said.
Spencer traveled on a recent trade mission sponsored by Global Tampa Bay. The group aims to help small and medium-sized businesses export their products. In August, Spencer and executives from six other companies met with potential partners at the American Consulate in São Paulo. The mission is already paying off for Florida companies, according to Mike Meidel, Pinellas County’s economic development director and chair of Global Tampa Bay. “We had over $2.8 million in estimated sales right now. And $400,000 of that actually occurred during the mission,” Meidel said.
While trade between Florida and Brazil is strong, Brazil’s economy has been sluggish. The country is slowly recovering from a 2015 recession. Its global image has also suffered due to wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, and the right-wing policies of President Jair Bolsonaro.