Mexico trade wide open for Iowa ag business
By BILL SHEA
FORT DODGE – Mexico is a growing potential market for Iowa exports, and Jose Jimenez stands ready to help the state’s farmers and businesses start selling south of the border.
“Mexico is a very important partner, trade partner, for Iowa,” he said Tuesday morning in Fort Dodge.
Jimenez said Mexico already buys millions of dollars worth of corn and soybeans from Iowa farmers. He added that pork exports from Iowa to the country have risen by 500 percent since 2007.
Iowa’s manufacturers are shipping machinery and tires to Mexico, he added.
Jimenez leads a company in Mexico City called Business Development Partners which has a contract with the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
He explained his role and some basics of the Mexican market Tuesday morning during a meeting hosted by the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.
About 10 people attended the session at the Best Western Starlite Village Inn & Suites.
Earlier in the morning, he addressed the alliance’s agriculture committee.
“Our mission is to promote exports from the state of Iowa into Mexico,” he said.
He added that his role has recently expanded to include actively promoting Iowa as an investment destination.
Iowa farmers and business leaders ought to look into the opportunities available in Mexico, Jimenez said.
“It’s right next door,” he said. “You don’t have to cross the ocean to get there.
“Take advantage of NAFTA,” referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
He said he serves as a representative of Iowa businesses in Mexico, and can arrange meetings between Iowa exporters and potential Mexican customers.
Anyone wishing to take advantage of that service should first contact the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Jimenez acknowledged that Americans see a steady stream of news about violent crime, often caused by drug cartels, in Mexico.
We cannot deny it, he said.
But he said most of the violence involves rival drug gangs attacking each other. People who are not gang members and are not trying to fight the gangs are generally safe, he said.
“Chances of meeting with any incidents of violence are very, very remote,” he said.
Despite security concerns, he said, foreign investment is growing in Mexico.
Jimenez said Mexico is Iowa’s second largest export market.
In 2012, those exports included:
1 $842 million worth of corn
2. $292 million worth of soybeans and related products
3. $119 million worth of pork
4. $114 million worth of rubber articles, mostly tractor tires
5. $100 million worth of industrial machinery
6. $76 million worth of vehicle parts, mostly for agricultural equipment
7. $29 million worth of electric machinery
The corn imports, Jimenez said, are crucial for the Mexican cattle industry. He said the country must import 10 million tons of corn annually to feed cattle.
“Without the grain coming from Iowa into Mexico, our livestock industry would be in big trouble,” he said.
The growing industries in Mexico that Iowa exporters may want to enter include aerospace, autos, energy technology and infrastructure, according to Jimenez.
But he said U.S. companies face increased competition from other countries in the Mexican market.
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