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Posted on March 10, 2014
Kristen Rupert, Executive Director of the AIM International Business Council, will be the sole representative of the private sector to accompany Governor Deval Patrick on a trade mission to Mexico and Panama March 17-22, the administration announced this morning.
State officials say the mission will bring together leaders in government and business to strengthen existing relationships and build new ones with the emerging innovation economies of Panama City and Mexico City.
The last Massachusetts trade mission to Mexico occurred in 1999, when then Lt. Governor Jane Swift led a delegation to Mexico City and Monterrey on behalf of Governor Paul Cellucci.
Rupert has previously joined Massachusetts trade missions to Brazil, Colombia and Canada. She has used all of the trips to help AIM member companies identify market opportunities and make connections with potential business and research partners.
“My experience has been that nothing replaces face-to-face contact in trying to establish connections in a new export market. The governor also has the unique ability to open doors for commercial relationships,” Rupert said.
“AIM members benefit from these missions, and numerous companies have seen tangible results. My job is to represent AIM member companies that might not be able to participate but still have an interest in exporting.”
Mexico is the number two destination for all United States goods exports ($226 billion in 2013), outranked only by Canada. Already a viable manufacturing alternative to China for US firms, Mexico has parleyed a skilled workforce and proximity to the U.S. into a steady growth in GDP since 2010.
Rupert says investment opportunities exist in Mexico for Massachusetts companies in the clean energy, waste management, water innovation and general infrastructure sectors. Improving access to clean water for Mexican citizens is a priority for the government, and there is strong interest in increasing energy capacity from solar, wind and biomass, while decreasing dependence on fossil fuels.
In a February 2013 New York Times op-ed, Tom Friedman predicted, “Mexico will become a more dominant economic power than China or India in this century.” Even if wide of the mark, Friedman’s bet suggests that Mexico, with which the US shares the world’s busiest border, is rising in prominence and influence:
Massachusetts also shares a strong relationship with Panama, a relationship that has grown since COPA Airlines added a non-stop flight from Logan Airport to Panama City in 2012. Massachusetts last year imported approximately $4.34 million worth of goods and services from Panama while exporting approximately $22.5 million worth of goods and services back to the Central American nation.
In Panama, the governor and the delegation will meet with Dr. Ruben Berrocal, Panama’s Minister of Science, the Panamanian Chamber of Information Technology and Communications, officials who oversee the Panama Canal, and innovation leaders in Panama’s “City of Knowledge.” The Panama Canal is currently undergoing an expansion that, once complete, will potentially double the inputs and outputs through the Conley Container Terminal in South Boston.
“Lasting growth in the 21st century global economy will come from our competitiveness in global markets and opening up Massachusetts to the markets where we share strengths,” Governor Patrick said. “The leaders in business and government and venture capitalists of Latin America’s growth centers are eager to collaborate with us because they recognize that Massachusetts is an innovation hub with a disciplined strategy for growth.”