MIAMI — The Foundation for Democracy in Africa announced it has set up a center to promote bilateral trade between the U.S. and nations of Africa.
The national organization picked Miami for its Africa Trade Development Center because, although South Florida is known as the gateway to Latin America, import-export trade with Africa has shown an increase in recent years and is expected to boost the region’s economic growth.

The center, coming after some 10 years of planning, “is designed to serve as a trade hub to support market development and expansion for Africa’s small and medium enterprises in the U.S. and other markets in the Western Hemisphere, using Miami as a path to global expansion,” a foundation statement said.

Located in the Miami Free Zone, the center offers services such as training and technical assistance to select manufacturers and producers from Africa and the U.S.

It also helps with product promotion and assists companies establish sustainable distribution networks.

Africa offers a lucrative market, according to the foundation. It reported that in 2010, the continent’s combined gross domestic product totaled $1.7 trillion,  with consumer spending estimated at $800 million. By 2020, Africa’s combined GDP is expected to top $4 trillion, with consumer spending more than doubling to more than $2.6 trillion in a population expected to grow to more than one billion.

That, the foundation said, makes Africa “a considerable market for U.S. companies and investors.”

South Africa, which is the world’s 26th largest economy and a top destination for exports originating from Florida, is one of the state’s largest merchandise export destinations.

The 8-year-old Washington, D.C.-based foundation is a non-partisan development organization “committed to promoting participatory democracy, sustainable development and economic growth throughout Africa.”

It has offices in Miami and African countries such as Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. For more information, visit democracy-africa.org