While participating in the governor led trade mission to Mexico City and Baja last month, 27 Utah companies made connections and learned how they can successfully expand their business to Latin America. With approximately $850 million in Utah exports each year, Mexico was selected for a state led trade mission because it is a growing trade hub for the Americas and provides an opportunity to attract foreign direct investment to Utah.
Many Utah companies already conduct business in Mexico. Spire Ranges recently opened a facility in Mexico City that will be used for training local law enforcement agencies. The facility is the result of a contract acquired by Spire Ranges’ attendance at the Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) trade show in 2017. With the encouragement of WTC Utah, Spire Ranges attended DSEI after applying for and receiving funds from the State Trade and Expansion Program (STEP) Grant.
Several agricultural companies and organizations also participated in the trade mission, including Weber County dairyman Ron Gibson, president of the Utah Farm Bureau President. Juab County farmer Wayne Jarrett and Sanpete County sheep rancher Wade Eliason – both on Utah Farm Bureau’s State Board of Directors – also participated in the trip, along with representatives from IFA, Utah Manufacturers Association, Utah Department of Agriculture & Food, several state legislators, and others.
Ron Gibson, president of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation, was a delegate on the trade mission.
“This trip with the World Trade Center and Governor Herbert has been a tremendous opportunity. We have been able to build relationships with Mexican business leaders and government officials that will benefit farmers and ranchers in our state for years to come,” Gibson said. “While we met with all sorts of people, one of the best parts was working with the governor and all of the leaders on the economic development side as we push for good trade policies and priorities in the future.”
“The trade mission was a great opportunity to strengthen bilateral ties between Utah and Mexico, and was especially valuable to make connections for Utah's agriculture industry,” said Andy Pierucci, Deputy Director of Marketing and Communications for the Utah Department of Agriculture & Food. “Trade missions open doors. They connect business and government leaders with key contacts in the market and provide participants with an on-the-ground view of the market.”
There were 27 Utah companies that made connections and learned how to successfully expand their business to Latin America on the trade mission. IFA especially had success in their meetings with Mexico's dairy's, and according to Pierucci, they hope to see sales within the next year.
To further strengthen the relationship between Utah and Mexico, Governor Gary R. Herbert met with the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, at the Official Residence of Los Pinos. In addition to discussing NAFTA, the governor stressed the importance of Utah’s trade relationship with Mexico. Last year, trade between Utah and Mexico totaled $4 billion dollars.
“These trade missions are valuable to Utah businesses exploring international expansion because they open doors and provide numerous opportunities to participants,” said Val Hale, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). “While not all the benefits are realized immediately, the opportunities begin with participation on a trade mission and forming those face-to-face relationships. I’m confident that this mission will yield many benefits and lead to long-term success.”
“Our state trade missions provide local companies with a unique opportunity to learn from key staff members how to successfully expand into the region,” said Derek Miller, former president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah (now the President of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce). “Additionally, through networking and pitch events, Utah companies looking to expand into Latin America make connections with potential customers and partners which act as a catalyst in their own expansion.”
The trade mission, supported by WTC Utah, GOED, U.S. Commercial Service, the U.S. Small Business Administration and Deseret Management Corporation, was comprised of private and public organizations from various industries.