A delegation of local business and civic leaders, organized by the Seattle Metro Chamber and the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, recently visited Guadalajara and Mexico City, two cities with particular importance to our regional and statewide economies. This International Leadership Mission ran in conjunction with a Washington State Trade Mission led by Governor Jay Inslee focused on business-to-business export opportunities for small businesses and market access for Washington’s agricultural exports. To maximize the impact of these parallel missions, the Chamber and TDA collaborated and coordinated with the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce on group meetings for both delegations in Guadalajara and Mexico City.
Many of our region’s companies have locations in Guadalajara and Mexico City, and we also have several key sectors in common, including technology, aerospace, and manufacturing. Over the course of the five-day trip, delegates fostered stronger, deeper relationships and lasting connections with key leaders in both the public and private sectors.
In Guadalajara, regarded as the “Silicon Valley of Latin America,” highlights included:
- A Climate Change and Innovation Summit that built on the leadership of Washington state and our sister state, Jalisco, and the relationship that the two states’ governors forged at the Paris climate conference.
- Site visits to Kueski, a locally founded fintech startup providing microloans that secured the largest capital round in the fintech industry in Mexico, and Oracle, one of the major tech transnational companies operating from Guadalajara.
- Seeing an efficient and effective ecosystem of fostering skills and talent that is aligned with the needs of the business community. We learned on our visit that at all levels of government, business and education are part of a talent pipeline that contributes to growing the economy of Guadalajara, similar to the aims of our Seattle Region Partnership initiative.
- A session on narrowing the digital divide with CANIETI (the National Chamber of Electronics, Telecommunications, and Information Technologies), which represents more than 1,000 companies throughout Mexico.
The delegates also visited Mexico City, where they were joined by Governor Jay Inslee. Highlights of this segment of the trip included:
- Meetings with leaders from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of the Economy on the role of Mexico’s federal government in growing the economy
- Discussion of the challenges and opportunities NAFTA presents with Dr. Luis De la Calle, former Undersecretary of International Business Negotiations at the Ministry of Economy in Mexico; lead negotiator for Mexico’s bilateral trade agreements and regional multilateral negotiations in the World Trade Organization; former Minister of Trade Issues at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC.
Reflecting on the importance of this trip, Seattle Metro Chamber President and CEO Maud Daudon said, “In our global economy, it’s essential to build bridges to key trading partners to benefit businesses in our state and region. This is the first time that our International Leadership Mission went to Mexico, and it was a trip that was long overdue.”
Mexico is Washington state’s 12th-largest trade partner. Total trade between Mexico and Washington state for 2016 is estimated at $3.27 billion, including $1.96 billion in exports.
Just weeks after delegates returned, the Port of Seattle and Aeromexico, an affiliate of Chamber member Delta Air Lines, announced another development that will strengthen ties between our region and Mexico City: new daily non-stop service from Sea-Tac to Mexico City, beginning November 1. As the Puget Sound Business Journal reports, “Aeromexico will become the sixth new international airline to begin service to the Puget Sound region since 2016.”
For more about this year’s International Leadership Mission and the importance of Mexico to our region: