“Miami is the best place for business.” That was the consensus among the local officials and entrepreneurs that came together earlier this week at the Miami Free Zone in West Dade to greet and establish commercial ties with the members of an incoming trade mission from Guatemala. ‘‘Given the warm reception and a busy, pre-arranged 3-day agenda that included dozens of meetings with South Florida companies, the enthusiastic visitors from that Central American country could not agree more.

Prior to the luncheon, FFTA Executive Director Clarence Bird, Jr. called attendees to order for a series of informational presentations by Bettina Rodríguez Aguilera, Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Doral; Angelica Behm, broker with Behm Brokerage; Juliana Pena, representing Enterprise Florida; and Ralph Puga, President of the Florida Free Trade Association —touting the advantages of Doral as a hub for commerce and industry, the benefits of purchasing real estate in this down market, and our area’s dynamic foreign trade activity, respectively.

Mr. Puga introduced the delegation composed of Guatemalan business executives —led by Dunia Miranda-Mauri, Trade Commissioner from the Guatemala Trade & Investment office in Miami, and Nancy Cárdenas, Trade Center Director for the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) in Guatemala. They are Francisco Montano, with Fomentos, S.A. and Carbón Corral Viejo (lump charcoal and briquettes); Elmer Juárez, with Corporación Ainsa (beans, broccoli, ginger and other foodstuffs); Rodolfo Bresani, with Manufacturas de Latex (toys, balloons, cups and party supplies); Luisa González, with Ediciones Dal (children’s books); and Eduardo and David López, with Consultores Jurídicos Aduanales (freight forwarders and custom brokers)

With $2.2 billion in annual activity, Guatemala currently ranks 13th among Miami-Dade’s trade partners.

The meeting became even more spectacular and informative when Miami-Dade County Commissioner José “Pepe” Díaz—who has nearly three decades’ experience in international trade and is the only Republican in the group that advises President Barack Obama on trade matters— took to the floor. Always a fervert orator, especially on this topic, Díaz addressed the crowd in English and Spanish.

“International trade today is much more competitive,” he began. “There’s an increased ability to move products, more negotiations, better skills. The internet is an important factor, since it has opened up the industry to anyone, anywhere. Trade has become much more possible and easier, but the human contact cannot be replaced. That’s why these missions are so important.”

“Relationships are key in trade and in business.” Commissioner José “Pepe” Díaz

With Miami International Airport as the largest trading airport and the Port of Miami as the #1 cruise port in the world, Commissioner Díaz assured the Guatemalan delegation that they had come to the ideal place to make business connections to sell their products, purchase specialized materials and contract specific services. And with 54 international banks in Miami-Dade to handle the financial side of the exchange, conditions couldn’t be better anywhere else.

Before breaking for lunch, the members of the trade mission were each awarded a “Distinguished Visitor” certificate and treated to a one-on-one with representatives from various Miami-Dade departments and organizations, including Eric Olafson from the Port of Miami, Manuel González from Miami International Airport, and Felipe Madrigal with the Greater Doral & Airport West Chamber of Commerce.

The luncheon turned out to be a lively networking opportunity, offering local entrepreneurs and trade officials to become acquainted with the visitors, their firms and wares in a more relaxed environment.