Welcome to World Trade Week: Spotlight San Diego

What makes Cali Baja hum? San Diego’s loaded with export pros, and they’re contributing to the success of this year’s World Trade Week. Southwestern College Center for International Trade Development’s National City campus hosts an info session on “How to Enter into the European Market”. Register to attend here. The speaker lineup includes teams from Baker & McKenzie, a group that’s always worth listening to when it comes to global trade. There will also be representatives from the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency.

At the border, the annual MEXPORT trade show is the area’s best gathering place for all things supply chain. This San Diego event’s a stone’s throw from the Tijuana city limits, so it’s a great chance to mingle with friends from over the fence, too. At last year’s MEXPORT event, I learned a lot about two industries that make our cross-border trade hum: logistics and security services. Sign up here. It’s free to visitors, and they’re running shuttles across the border to simplify parking and transport!

Read more about MEXPORT in a previous post here.

For a great perspective from Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, visit the Department of Commerce’s website here: http://www.trade.gov/worldtrademonth/

Exporting your company’s goods and services is the best way to boost your overall revenues and stake claim as leader in your industry.

Cali Baja Shines at Mexport

Mexport is an annual trade show in San Diego — a great, one-day snapshot of Cali Baja’s economy, a term that describes the greater economic zone between Baja California in Mexico and San Diego and Imperial Counties in California. Services in global transportation, manufacturing and assembly reflect the impetus of the local economy and the interlaced nature of Cali Baja.

My colleagues at the Imperial Valley Economic Development Council say they continue to greet 3 to 4 trade delegations from Asia and the Middle East who come seeking resources in agriculture – Imperial County exports grain to both regions – and in emerging alternative energy such as biomass algae and wind. (In April, when I was in El Centro at the annual regional global trade summit, I heard firsthand about damages from the Easter Sunday earthquake and aftershocks in Mexicali and Calexico, which are much worse than we’d feared: flooding from busted irrigation lines has interrupted growth and harvesting cycles, and many private and public structures remain uninhabitable.)

Here’s a group of services providers that you probably would not meet if you were to attend a similar event along the Washington-British Columbia or Michigan-Ontario borders: specialists in retro-fitting vehicles with armor and bullet-proof glass, and evasive driving instruction. Three fast-growing companies, owned and operated by guys who you’d want on your side in a rumble, displayed car doors riddled with bullet holes and heavy-duty vehicles tricked out in under-armor and very thick, tinted glass. Business is booming along the volatile US-Mexico border and in the Middle East, as companies go to great lengths to insure and protect Key Men and families.

One of Mexport’s sponsors, Corrugados/Orange County Container, is a bi-national provider of packaging goods and services to Cali Baja’s manufacturers. Their booth was done up in World Cup Fever theme, replete with easy chairs and footrests built from corrugate and designed in the shape of soccer balls. Between these chairs and the bullet-riddled door panels, I knew I was at a show that meant business!

World Trade Week: View from the Border

2009 World Trade Week events in the southern California/US-Mexico border region:

Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce & U.S. Commercial Service co-hosted The Americas Business Forum in Los Angeles May 27-28.

  • Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke reminded guests to tap the US & Foreign Commercial Service’s myriad resources.
  • LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa shared his vision of the city as a “21st-century Venice”, a hub of global trade.
  • Bob DeMartini, export manager of Hayward Pools provided a valuable look at winning international sales through hard work and sensible channel relationships. My favorite line: “‘Exclusivity’ means ‘Exclusive Right NOT to Sell'”. Wise advice from a channel veteran.
  • Commercial diplomats from Latin America posts recapped sector growth data and read socio-political gauges. Watch what will happen in Panama in the coming decade: the $5.2 billion Panama Canal expansion project will double the canal’s capacity, and the mammoth Colón Free Trade Zone re-exports $19 billion in goods and services into all Latin American and Caribbean countries and the US, and is set to expand.
  • Orange County Center for International Trade & U.S. Commercial Service co-hosted an excellent Mexico Trade Outlook in Santa Ana May 26.

  • Ann Bacher, Incoming Minister Counselor of Commercial Affairs for the US & Foreign Commercial Service posted impressive statistics: California businesses account for 15% of the US exports to Mexico, valued at about $20 billion. NAFTA is the world’s largest free trade area, home to 440 million people and a GDP of $15.4 trillion.
  • Despite immediate concerns about influenza, sub-standard infrastructure, and narco-violence, US suppliers should keep an eye on such long-term prospects for export growth as aviation-related services and systems, automotive manufacturing systems (GM and Chrysler aren’t the only car makers located in Mexico!), franchising, security and safety systems (more on the Merida Initiative here), and education (online and campus), the latter of which signals a more informed, motivated work force.
  • Carlos Rodriguez y Quesada, spokesman for the Mexican government’s foreign investment agency, PROMÉXICO, reported major infrastructure opportunities: $4 billion to build or upgrade 1400 kilometers of rail, maritime, including the $5 billion Punto Coronet project; highways, energy, telecomm, and manufacturing systems.
  • Have you heard about Cali-Baja Bi-National Mega-Region? The economic development agencies in San Diego and Imperial Counties and the state of Baja California announced this joint venture during World Trade Week, to market the region nationally and internationally.

    At an event near the Otay Mesa Border Crossing in San Diego, I spoke with the new field director of the US Customs and Border Protection Agency, Paul Morris. Paul noted that the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) quietly went into effect on June 1, and all systems appear to be GO.

    Finally, good news from El Paso. The head of the US-Mexico Border District Export Council, Cecilia Levine, is joining her cross-border colleagues in celebrating the opening of El Paso’s first Department of Commerce office. The new office will collaborate with the DEC as well as promote a Gold Key program tailored to US suppliers who are seeking to preserve trade with manufacturers in Mexico.

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