Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Exports to Mexico Up 81.6% in 5 Years

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Exports to Mexico Up 81.6% in 5 Years

Article excerpt

By Darrell Morrow

Feature Editor

Confusion still reigns about what ultimately will be the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Staunch determination of all three nations _ Canada, the United States and Mexico _ to work out some more liberal and mutually beneficial trade agreement than exists presently makes it seem plausible it will occur.

The close proximity of Oklahoma to Mexico makes it seem logical to believe Oklahoma business and industry could be affected more by business with Mexico than Canada when changes are made. Many Oklahoma businesses and industries have dabbled in business with Mexico.

Statistics on the amount of Oklahoma goods traveling south have been difficult to obtain on any current basis that would make them meaningful. The present proposals have spurred dissemination of more current figures by the U.S. Department of Commerce, said Gary Miller, director of the international division of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

A five-year summary shows Oklahoma exports to Mexico have increased 81.6 percent from $44.2 million in 1987 to $80.3 million in 1991.

Oklahoma's $80.3 million in exports, though, amount to only 2.4 percent of the $33.27 billion in U.S. products exported to Mexico in 1991.

Texas, which has more proximity advantage by bordering Mexico, recorded exports of $15.48 billion to Mexico. That was the largest amount of goods exported by any state to Mexico in 1991, according to statistics of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

It is unclear if some of the Texas export credits may have resulted from international pass-through credit to the port of embarkation, which has been documented to have happened in the past. That could skew the statistics.

Oklahoma, nevertheless, ranks low on the totem pole among all of its sister states in the south central region. It also is lower in volume of exports to Mexico than any of its surrounding border states except New Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce statistics.

Gov. David Walters has initiated actions during his term in office to strengthen trade relations with Mexico. He personally met with the president of Mexico during an Oklahoma Department of Agriculture-sponsored tour to Mexico earlier this year.

Agricultural exports would seem a natural way to strengthen Oklahoma's sagging agricultural economy. U.S. Department of Commerce statistics show only $2.4 million in Oklahoma agriculture products going to Mexico in 1991. That figure is not consistent with Oklahoma statistics.

More wheat alone than that was shipped to Mexico, said Chris Rink, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.

"For the 1990-1991 market year, the value of Oklahoma wheat sales to Mexico was $3.7 million. The previous year, 1989-1990, it was $6.8 million, and in 1988-89 it was $30 million. There are two reasons for the decline. One was better crops in Mexico, and then since 1990-1991, the competition from Canada has caused our share of the market to decline," Rink said.

Canada subsidizes it wheat producers and has undersold the U.S. prices by 40 cents a bushel at last count. That has allowed Canada to capture the major portion of the Mexican wheat market, Rink said. …

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