Salt Lake, Mexican Chambers Sign Agreement to Promote Trade

Salt Lake City—Utah strengthened ties with one of its biggest trading partners with the signing of a show of support of existing trade agreements with Mexico Wednesday.

The agreement between the Salt Lake Chamber and Association of Mexican Chambers of Commerce, or CONCANACO SERVYTUR, reaffirms the strong business ties between both countries, said Utah Sen. Luz Escamilla (D-District 1).

“There is a desire from the business communities both in Mexico and the United States to continue working and take place in a way that helps both countries and, in our case, help the State of Utah,” said Escamilla.

The event was attended by state legislators, including Senate President Wayne Niederhauser (R-District 10), who has been outspoken for the need for greater proactivity on the part of the Legislature in promoting trade.

Lane Beattie, CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, said his organization believed wholeheartedly in preserving and bolstering existing trade agreements.

“The Salt Lake Chamber is excited to enter into this agreement with the association of the Mexican Chamber of Commerce in an effort to promote trade, tourism and investment between Utah and Mexico, and support the protection of the existing free trade agreement,” Beattie said. “Utah’s economy has become interlaced with the global market. Today, one in four jobs is supported by international trade, and when you look at our trade partners, Mexico is at the top of the list.”

Mexico is Utah’s third-largest trade partner, with trade between the two countries totaling more than $4 billion, Beattie said. Beattie said the North American Free Trade Agreement should be sustained, to protect trade between the U.S. and Mexico, though allowed that it should be updated to include such modern facets of business as e-commerce and others.

Donald Salazar, chairman of the board for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce agreed that NAFTA should be updated to reflect the changing times but otherwise kept in place to promote trading between neighbors.

“[NAFTA] is an aged agreement and we need to modernize it and include many of the new facets we now enjoy,” he said. “Our trade with Mexico is not a new thing. … I think the signing of this document is just affirmation of something that is already vibrant and positive.”

Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chair Alex Guzman noted that while two of the organizations signing the agreement—the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce—are Hispanic-centered, the benefits of the almost 10,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in Utah or trade between the U.S. and Mexico are far from limited to the Hispanic community.

“Economy doesn’t really have a language. Economy doesn’t have a country,” he said. “We have in front of us an opportunity to grow, and an opportunity offer and an opportunity to trade and an opportunity to buy and an opportunity to sell at the same time. When we have an agreement like this, we’re not just promoting our local economy. We have a lot of things to offer the world, but at the same time the world has a lot of things to offer to us, and what we’re doing here is showing our best intentions and interests to put our words in action.”

Guzman also said a similar agreement was in the works with Spain.

Guzman, Salazar and Beattie all signed the agreement, as well as Ricardo Navarro Benitez, Vice President of CONCANACO SERVYTUR, and a representative from World Trade Center Utah. Salt Lake is the latest to sign the agreements between it and Mexico, with similar agreements previously being signed by business organizations across the country. On September 14, the same of agreement will be signed in Mexico to reaffirm its trading ties to the U.S.