Journal of Commerce / December 28, 1998
By Larry Luxner
Mexico currently ranks as the 10th biggest exporting nation in the world, with total 1997 exports exceeding $110 billion, and exports so far this year reaching $67 billion.
During the first half of this year, Mexico was the only Latin American country to rank among the United States' 10 most important trading partners in the electronics sector, and in fact was the second-most important worldwide, after Japan. The Electronics Industry Alliance says Mexico sold a record $9.7 billion worth of electronics goods to the United States from January to June 1998, a 24% increase over last year, and bought almost $2 billion from the U.S., a 17% increase.
Mexico is also an increasingly important buyer of U.S. goods -- a trend likely to continue as long as the Mexican economy keeps growing.
To encourage the export of American products to Mexico, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has established the Ronald Brown Business Center. This facility -- part of a $2.5 million renovation going on at the U.S. Trade Center in Mexico City -- is set to be inaugurated Feb. 2, and will be open only to exporters of goods and services having more than 50% U.S. content.
The center has 11 executive offices and one conference room. All options are available for either short or long-term lease. New clients receive a complete business briefing and commercial intelligence overview by U.S. Foreign Commercial Service staff. Confirmed tenants include Enterprise Florida, the US/Mexico Chamber of Commerce, the Visit USA Committee, the Overseas Security Advisory Committee and the states of Georgia, New York, Virginia and New Jersey
"The center provides an immediate presence in Mexico without the costs or aggravation normally associated with starting up a new office in a foreign country," Ann Bacher, the center's director, said in a phone interview. "We've made space in our building to provide these associations with our facilitation services so we can work better together. We like having them here with us because it inspires more cooperation."
Ms. Bacher, who has four prospective tenants on the waiting list, says the Ronald Brown Business Center "is a continuation of the U.S. government's focus on this market through NAFTA."
In fact, since NAFTA's implementation in 1994, U.S. exports to Mexico have jumped by 72%, with the fastest growth recorded by Wyoming, South Dakota and Alaska. The largest single exporter by far is Texas, with most of its $36.7 billion in 1997 exports to Latin America going to Mexico alone. Other important exporters to Mexico are California, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, New York and Ohio.
Currently, 26 individual states have trade offices in Mexico City, while two others offer trade management services.
Among the center's benefits:
* flexible lease terms, allowing exporters to pay only for what they need and use.
* modern, fully furnished offices offering immediate occupancy and professional support in one of Mexico City's prime business locations.
* private direct-line telecom equipment with voice mail, and conference rooms with videoconference capabilities.
* 24-hour building access.
* instant access to expertise by U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service specialists having potential contacts in both government and the private sector.
Under the embassy's Gold Key program, staffers will set up business appointments at the rate of $350 for the first day and $250 each day thereafter. ADS RepFind, a separate service to identify potential business partners, costs $250, while international company or partner profiles -- including data about prospective local customers -- costs $100. The center also offers custom-tailored market research covering business conditions as well as industry-specific information (price varies).
Other services include promotional campaign design and execution including brochure, database development, mailing and follow-up; website consultation, design and hosting; organization of commercial receptions including catering and beverage service; telemarketing to assure attendance by qualified targeted business contacts, and English-Spanish interpreters and translators.
For long-term clients, the center offers leases ranging from $1,000 a month for a standard office to $1,500 a month for an exterior office with a window.
"Unlike other 'business centers,' the Ronald Brown Business Center and its affiliation with the U.S. Trade Center and the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service provides immediate access to a professional staff with more than 25 years of trade promotion experience," says the embassy. "With our experience, we may already know who your customers are."
For more information, contact Ms. Bacher by phone at +52-5-140-2600, by fax at +52-5-566-1115, or by e-mail at Ann.Bacher@mail.doc.gov. The center's web site is http://www.uscommerce.org.mx.