FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. /Florida Newswire/ -– Governor Charlie Crist on Monday signed legislation strengthening Florida’s international trade by increasing worker access to Florida ports while maintaining strict security standards. Signed by the Governor at Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, House Bill 7141 reduces the cost of doing business by eliminating unnecessary and redundant security reviews.

“This legislation strengthens Florida’s proud reputation as a world leader in international trade by making the state’s ports more accessible yet more secure,” said Governor Crist. “Florida’s international trade has remained strong, in spite of challenges in other business sectors, and this bill will only increase the state’s ability to successfully sell products and services around the globe.”

House Bill 7141 enhances Florida’s already prosperous international trade by providing workers more timely access to ports while maintaining the strict security standards already in place. The legislation brings Florida law more in line with federally regulations by streamlining security requirements. For example, workers currently required to wear multiple badges will now only have to wear the Federal Transportation Worker Identification Credential. In addition, workers who do business on multiple ports will now need only one criminal background check, reducing worker costs and eliminating a requirement for unnecessary reviews.

House Bill 7141 increases the representation of seaport workers on the Seaport Security Standards Advisory Council, the council responsible for reviewing the statewide minimum standards for seaport security in relation to combating narcotics and terrorism threats to Florida’s seaports. The legislation also increases security accountability by directing the Office of Drug Control to commission an updated assessment of Florida’s seaport security standards.

Governor Crist was joined at the Port Everglades bill signing by Senator Dave Aronberg and Representative Sandra Adams. Port Everglades is one of Florida’s largest and most diverse seaports with more than 24 million tons of waterborne commerce in fiscal year 2007-08. The Port’s total financial impact amounts to more than $18 billion in business activity, 200,000 jobs statewide and $625 million in state and local tax revenue. As the future home to the two largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, Port Everglades is expected to become the No. 1 cruise port in the world by 2011.

About Florida’s International Trade

International trade was Florida’s strongest economic sector in 2008 and continued to drive the United States and Florida economy in spite of an economic downturn affecting Florida and the nation. Florida-origin exports increased 21 percent in 2008, far exceeding the nation’s export growth of 11.8 percent. Florida ranks fifth among the states in exports, yet Florida’s export growth outpaced the four top states (Texas, California, New York and Washington).

Other indicators of Florida’s international trade success include the following:

Florida trade reached $130.5 billion in 2008, up 13.7 percent over the previous year.

Florida-origin exports reached $54.3 billion during 2008, which exceeded 2007’s year-end total of $44.8 billion and is a 21-percent growth over last year.

Florida is the third largest exporter of high-tech goods in the United States, at more than $14.6 billion in 2008. High-tech goods include motor cars and vehicles; turbojets, turbopropellers, turbines and parts; medical, surgical and dental instruments; and electronic integrated circuits.

Jennifer is the managing content editor for Florida Newswire™, and has been a team member of the Neotrope® News Network since Dec. 2008. She is a creative writer, former surfer girl, and currently resides in South Florida. She paints, is a foodie, and owns two pure white tabby cats who prefer their identities be kept secret (and no, they don't have their own Facebook page).