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Why Utah and Mexico are partnering to improve trade

Why Utah and Mexico are partnering to improve trade


During the state trade mission to Mexico last month, Gov. Spencer Cox shared that “our relationship with Mexico is the most important international alliance Utah has.” And we agree.

Businesses and consumers alike have felt the effects of the ongoing global supply chain issues and trade wars of the last few years. As we collectively work through the challenges that come our way, we take stock of our international partners who are prepared to solve current problems and collaborate to create new opportunities.

Mexico, the second-largest economy in Latin America, was Utah’s third-largest merchandise export destination in 2022. To catalyze trade and diplomatic relations, Cox and former Gov. Gary Herbert have led four trade missions to Mexico in the past decade — two of which have been in the last two years. Last year’s business trip garnered $52.55 million in new international sales and sourcing opportunities. 

In the time since the 2022 visit, Cox, the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, and the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City strategically crafted the Joint Utah Mexico Partnership, or JUMP, initiative. Cox met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy to present the JUMP during our return visit. The strategic plan includes 12 recommendations for continued partnership in the region, including points about new jobs, trade, tourism and language acquisition.

Utah is proud to be home to nearly 340,000 Mexicans and people of Mexican descent, accounting for roughly 10% of our state’s population. Deep cultural and economic ties have existed since Utah was founded, including a 111-year-old Mexican consulate office in Salt Lake City. We brought 17 exceptional Utah companies — with a focus on manufacturing and technology — to meet government officials, trade associations, and corresponding business partners to build relationships and identify growth opportunities. Each entrepreneur and executive reported the trip as a success for their company. World Trade Center Utah understands well that these companies invested time and resources and that a strong return on each investment is of paramount importance. We appreciate the support of Cox and first lady Abby Cox, Sens. Luz Escamilla and Mike McKell, and Rep. Cory Maloy in building bridges with Mexican officials and supporting the Utah delegation’s business objectives. Their participation opened doors providing access for our business community. 

Many of the companies in the recent Utah delegation made the trek to find nearshoring options for their supply chain and minimize the risks of manufacturing in China. Compared to Asian counterparts, Mexican manufacturers boast similar or lower costs of skilled labor. Additionally, due to its strategic geographic location, Mexico provides shorter transit times to deliver products to the U.S.

The implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in 2020 has strengthened the commercial bridge between the U.S. and Mexico. Companies manufacturing in Mexico enjoy transparency in factories, the ability to manufacture without establishing an entity in Mexico, and, most importantly, zero tariffs on U.S.-made products. 

When it comes to digital ecosystems and STEM innovation, Mexico has not only caught up with other global leaders — it has become a trailblazer. Ultimately, Mexico has the talent and the desire to build digital teams with U.S. tech firms. Both cities also fall within the Central and Mountain time zones, allowing Utah businesses to build synchronous remote teams. And, as a bonus, Aeromexico has announced expanded nonstop flights from Salt Lake City to Mexico City and Monterrey.

Next year, Cox is leading another state delegation to our other USMCA partner, Canada. Strengthening Utah’s direct ties to our closest international neighbors will strengthen our foothold in the global market and help us achieve our vision of making Utah the crossroads of the world.

Sign up for WTC Utah’s newsletter for details. We will announce the trade mission dates and application process in December.

Jonathan Freedman is the president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah. Jeremy Andrus is the CEO of Traeger Pellet Grills.


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