Florida Gov. Rick Scott, as of this writing, must decide if he is going to sign into law a bill that prohibits foreign corporations that do business with Cuba from doing business in Florida.
It is a poor law! Brazil, South Florida’s largest trading partner, says “no” to the proposed law. Canada says “no.” The Florida Chamber of Commerce says “no” to the proposed law. Florida would be losing the benefits derived from major international businesses that now are contributing to the growth of our state.
The Canadian ambassador called the Florida Chamber of Commerce president and said that if the bill is passed into law many Canadian corporations that currently do business in Cuba and Florida will stop making investments in our state for fear that the proposed law will prohibit them from developing their investments.
The Brazilian Minister of Trade and Industry, Fernando Pimentel, talked about the bill last month with U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson telling him his government couldn’t do anything thing until the state [Florida] takes a position on the proposed law. Then they would decide how to act.
Interestingly, our governor traveled to Brazil earlier this year on a trade mission seeking to increase the currently blooming trade between Florida and Brazil. He seems to forget that Odebrecht USA, a subsidiary of Odebrecht in Brazil, the third largest construction company in the world that build major portions of Miami International Airport and currently are building the Metrorail extension to the airport no longer would be permitted to work in Florida.
All this appears an effort to curry the support of South Florida voters who came from Cuba. Will it do anything to bring down the Castro regime?
Except for a baseball manager’s romance with Castro everyone I know in Florida — of Cuban heritage or not — wants to see Castro’s way of government gone and the island return to a democratic state. But banning a foreign corporation from doing business in Florida, if it happens to be doing business in Cuba, is no way to build a better Florida.
Wilson, the Florida Chamber of Commerce president, to quote the Miami Herald, said “companies should not do business with oppressive regimes in Cuba and Syria. But, having a state [Florida] instead of the federal government, setting foreign policy is unconstitutional. Florida has gone around the world and said ‘we want to be your trading partner.’ How do we tell the world we want the world here and then send an unconstitutional message to them that ‘oh, by the way, we’re going to start doing country-by-country rule making?’”
Just how far reaching such a law could go is almost impossible to project. As an example: City National Bank, here in Miami, is custodian for several Miami-Dade County bank accounts. The bank is owned by Cajas Madrid of Spain, which Cuba lists as one of the financial institutions operating in Cuba. Does this mean City National Bank no longer can do business in Florida? Doesn’t make sense, does it?
The list must go into the thousands once you start researching what holding companies own a company operating in Florida and also own a subsidiary that does business in Cuba. It will make any company in the world think twice about doing business in Florida. Just how costly will that be?
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