Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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Mexican consul calls for more trade between Mexico and Minnesota

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Nathan Wolf, Mexico's consul to Minnesota, says the state should have a better trading relationship with his country. Wolf encouraged business leaders in St. Cloud to establish trading partnerships with companies in Mexico. (MPR Photo/Tim Post)
Some Minnesota business owners say the state is missing out on a huge opportunity for trade with Mexico. That's an idea echoed by the state's new representative from Mexico. Consul Nathan Wolf says Mexico and Minnesota should improve their trading relationship.

St. Cloud, Minn. — Mexico's consul to Minnesota, Nathan Wolf, says Minnesota has a good trading relationship with Mexico, but it could be better. In 2004, Minnesota exported $500 million worth of products to Mexico, everything from pre-packaged food to farm machinery. Wolf says that's not bad, but consider that Wisconsin's exports in the same year totalled twice as much, more than one billion dollars. He says that's because Wisconsin has reached out to Mexico.

"They have a trade office down there in Mexico and have had a very good resource for the trade between Mexico and Wisconsin. So I look forward to opening a Minnesota trade office in Mexico," Wolf said

The least Minnesota and Mexico could do, according to Wolf, is talk about a better trading relationship. Wolf says the North American Free Trade Agreement laid the legal groundwork for more trade between the two countries. He says now it's up to Minnesota and Mexico to take advantage of NAFTA.

"Business people from Mexico...come and invest and buy things here in Minnesota and sell things... and that people from Minnesota go and to put attention in Mexico. I think there are opportunities on both sides," Wolf said.

Minnesota companies already selling to Mexico say increasing trade would be easy. The company Vijay Puri works for already does a brisk business with Mexico. Puri is vice president of international sales at DeZurick, a company near St. Cloud that manufactures valves for water and waste water systems. Puri says Minnesota companies should learn more about business in Mexico, and the state should encourage more Mexican business leaders to come north for a visit.

"I think if they can do more of that, I think that can create more business. It all depends on how focused you are. And if you're focused on Mexico, I'm very sure you could do more business there," Puri said.

Some business owners say a better trading relationship is about more than just selling Minnesota products. Eduardo Martinez owns a Mexican restaurant in St. Cloud. He wants an easier way to buy products from Mexico, without paying brokers to complete the transaction.

"If I bring ingredients for my restaurant directly from Mexico, I'm benefiting because I'm getting fresher stuff. And they are benefiting because I'm paying my dollars to them," Martinez said.

The Hispanic Business Association, a group founded by Martinez, will make an effort to set up its own trading partnerships with Mexico. Those types of agreement could be a big part of greater trade with Mexico, especially since the number of Latino-owned businesses in Minnesota has increased dramatically in recent years. Martinez says while business owners can do some of the work on their own, they still need help from the state to increase trade. He says the best way to do that is for the state to start up it's own trade office in Mexico.

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