Miami-Dade eyes Dominican Republic sister city pact to cut China dependency, build cruise tourism
Image via AP.

PortMiami Cargo
'If we can get things through them and reduce our dependency on China, it would make us better.'

Miami-Dade lawmakers will soon consider furthering the county’s trade and tourism relations in Latin America and the Caribbean through a new sister city agreement with San Pedro de Macoris, a culturally rich Dominican Republic province with strong cruise tourism potential.

Commissioner Joe Martinez, who sponsored a resolution calling for the pact with the island nation, believes it could also help to further wean Miami-Dade and the United States from depending so heavily on China.

“The Dominican Republic, while not in Central or South America, would give us another foot in the door for trade with those countries,” he told Florida Politics. “Right now, we have supply chain issues. We have ships stuck in the Pacific by the Los Angeles seaport, supply chain disruptions and everything else. If we can get things through them and reduce our dependency on China, it would make us better. And from a selfish standpoint, if we start importing more things from Central and South America, what port would they use? Ours.”

The Miami-Dade Commission is scheduled to vote on the resolution Jan. 19.

Last month, Martinez successfully sponsored another resolution urging President Joe Biden’s administration to adopt a “friend-shoring” policy to redirect U.S. business supply chains from China to diplomatic allies in Latin America.

The switch — which would follow similar moves international firms like Volkswagen, Intel and Teleperformance recently made — would economically benefit all parties and could add $70 billion to Latin American economies yearly, the item said.

Miami-Dade has 23 active sister city agreements, including one with Santa Domingo Distrito Nacional, Dominican Republic, two friendship city arrangements and seven cities with which it shares emeritus status.

The last sister city agreement the Miami-Dade Commission approved was with Viareggio, Italy, in July.

The county also has 75 sister seaport agreements through PortMiami spanning 38 countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, including one with the Dominican Port Authority of Santo Domingo.

Martinez learned about the benefits of a potential agreement with San Pedro de Macoris from Rosa Kasse, president of the Hispanic Coalition of Coral Gables. If passed, it would mark the second sister city deal he saw through, following one in 2005 with Pereira, Colombia.

The Hispanic Coalition welcomed elected officials and trade representatives from San Pedro de Macoris at a July 22 meeting with the Miami-Dade International Trade Consortium, which approved of the proposed sister city agreement.

At the meeting, Kasse said they discussed various exchange possibilities.

“They have agri-industrial. They have textile, natural gas and cement, and a lot of products can be sold to San Pedro businesses,” she told Florida Politics. “They have a chamber of commerce.”

The groups also discussed possible cruise development at the province’s seaport, one of four ports Dominican Port Authority Director Jean Luis Rodriguez said will receive overhauls.

“San Pedro has one of the best tourist center resorts, Juan Dolio, 10 minutes from the city,” she said. “It has country clubs, a first-class hotel.”

Kasse said her group, Miami-Dade County and San Pedro de Macoris are now planning a four-day artisan expo in September. They’re talking to Florida International University, which they hope will host the event.

“It’s going to be a great exchange between two beautiful cities,” she said.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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