Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Mexico Seeks to Build Trade Ties with Sooner State

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Mexico Seeks to Build Trade Ties with Sooner State

Article excerpt

Thinking of jumping on the NAFTA bandwagon and beginning operations in Mexico? Someone in New Mexico wants to talk to you.

The international trade division of New Mexico's Department of Economic Development wants to boost the economy of Las Cruces, N.M., by persuading Oklahoma businesses to locate in Ciudad Juarez, just over the border from El Paso.

Trade officials in New Mexico are so optimistic that Oklahoma businesses will like the idea of locating in Juarez they are sending an official to Oklahoma in November to open up a dialogue with trade experts here.

Robert Queen, border trade specialist with the New Mexico international trade division's Las Cruces office, will visit Oklahoma Nov. 7-11 to talk to officials from the state Department of Commerce's international trade division and the Center for International Trade Development in Stillwater.

The New Mexico government's goal is to facilitate trade partnerships between U.S. companies and factories across the border, thereby providing potential business for suppliers in New Mexico.

"A lot of people don't realize it, but El Paso is right on the New Mexico border," Queen said.

"Many companies have factories in Juarez and a distribution warehouse on the El Paso side. The price of land in Mexico is twice as high as in the U.S., so there's a real incentive for companies with manufacturing operations in Mexico to store products on this side of the border."

"Not only does New Mexico hope to benefit by attracting warehouse customers, we also would like the opportunity for our companies to sell supplies to those businesses that locate in Mexico," Queen said.

Several dozen Oklahoma businesses are ripe to locate or expand in Mexico: the question is one of location, Queen said.

"We feel a lot of businesses are focusing on Mexico City and overlooking Juarez, which is the fifth largest city in Mexico, and the state of Chihuahua, which has 3 million people.

"If you're a business person in Oklahoma it's really easy and cheap to hop on a plane and fly down to El Paso."

Queen, a native of Newcastle and graduate of Oklahoma State University, said 45-50 Oklahoma companies are already vulnerable to locating abroad. …

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