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Trade Mission Advances Local, State Economic Interests in Southeast Asia
Trade Mission Advances Local, State Economic Interests in Southeast Asia
Media contact:
Stu Opperman, APR
Ambit Marketing Communications
(954) 568-2100, ext. 105

March 9, 2005

Trade Mission Advances Local, State Economic Interests in Southeast Asia

Broward County, FL -- A recently concluded trade mission that featured high level discussions between Florida business representatives and government leaders in Malaysia is already resulting in an economic boost for Broward County and could ultimately enable the state to take the lead in bringing space tourism to southeast Asia. The international outreach, dubbed "Opportunity Malaysia 2005" by organizers, included leaders from more than 20 Florida-based companies and economic interests who see great potential for increased commerce between the state and Kuala Lumpur.

One immediate outcome of the February 26-March 5 mission is an agreement with the Malaysian government to open a trade office in Broward that would serve U.S. Caribbean, and Latin American markets. The country is expected to lease at least 4,000 sq. feet and use South Florida as a base to show products and promote business in the Western Hemisphere.

"Malaysia has a stable economy, favorable political market conditions, strong, multifaceted ties to the United States, and is second only to Japan in wealth among Southeast Asian nations," said Bernhard Schutte, CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based Digital Media Network, Inc. and the mission organizer. "This trip laid the foundation for partnerships that will enable Florida interests to increase market share, expand globally, and gain access to an entire region."

The Florida Space Authority was one of the mission participants that view Malaysia as a gateway to the Eastern Hemisphere. The group, which seeks economic development opportunities for the state through space-related business and educational activities, is especially enthused about the potential for space tourism, a rapidly-growing industry that provides individuals with experiences previously only encountered by astronauts (example: zero-gravity flights, where participants can feel the weightlessness experienced in outer space). In Malaysia, the Space Authority also had exploratory discussions with officials about bringing students to the U.S. for training programs with scientists and engineers for sub-orbital rocket launches. The program, which currently has a working agreement with the Irish government, involves NASA and companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin and could be the first step toward aerospace business relationships for American companies, according to Florida Space Authority Board Member Ken Haiko. Malaysia has traditionally used Russian technology for its satellite launches.

15 Broward-based companies participated in the trade mission. "Some of our businesses are already established in Malaysia, and the eyes of many others were opened on this trip," said James Tarlton, president/CEO of The Broward Alliance, a mission sponsor. "There are significant business development opportunities that would enable our region to be a player in a growing marketplace." Tarlton said International Warehouse Services, a company that primarily stores cargo in the Fort Lauderdale foreign trade zone at Port Everglades,  is negotiating to provide port services in Malaysia. Another company with a local base, aviation company Skytruck, expects to sell 10 airplanes to the Malaysian government. Additionally, Nova Southeastern University is considering an American accredited university consortium that would provide educational opportunities to the Malaysian people without them having to leave their country to study.

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