While participating in the governor led trade mission to Mexico City and Baja last week, 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. doTERRA, a Utah-based essential oils company founded in 2008, opened a product center in Mexico City in 2015. Spire Ranges, another Utah company, 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. The delegates of the trade mission visited the sites of these facilities and many others while in Mexico.
“Our state trade missions provide local companies with a unique opportunity: visit the sites of Utah companies and learn from key staff members how to successfully expand into the region,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah). “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.”
Ron Gibson, president of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation, was a delegate on the trade mission. Regarding his experience in Mexico, Gibson stated that "Utah's Agricultural community is dependent on export sales of our products. 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."
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 on Tuesday. 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 Vale Hale, executive director of 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."
Four of the companies that attended the trade mission–Innosys, Niivatech, Optisys and TaskEasy–participated in a pitch event on Tuesday. The pitch event was organized by the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR) as part of the trade mission’s innovation component, which also included a tour of Startup Mexico. The four Utah companies pitched for over $70 million to a group of over 40 investors, venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs. Each of the companies is expected to receive some form of partnership or investment opportunity that will be announced once finalized.
The trade mission, supported by WTC Utah, GOED, U.S. Commercial Service, the U.S. Small Business Administration and Deseret Management Corporation, is comprised of private and public organizations from various industries.