Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Mexico Trade Mission News Conference
June 28, 2004
Good morning. Thank you for being here.
Joining me this morning are:
Valoria Loveland, secretary of the Washington State Department of Agriculture
Juli Wilkerson, director of the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development
Members of our Mexico trade delegation:
Richard Flaherty and Catherine Townsend-Flaherty with Leader International Corporation in Port Orchard;
Greg Zaser (ZAY’-zer), president and CEO of Keystone Fruit Company and co-founder of Mayan Heritage in Riverside, Washington;
Roger Knutsen, owner of Knutsen Farms in Burlington, Washington, and member of the Washington State Potato Commission; and
Monty Montoya, CEO of the Northwest Lions Foundation for Sight and Hearing in Seattle (representing mission delegate Mike Langhout).
We just returned a few days ago from a very successful four-day trade mission to Mexico City and Guadalajara to promote Washington goods and services and to increase opportunities for two-way trade.
We were successful. Our business delegates are reporting approximately $6 million in projected new sales during the next 12 months as a result of our mission.
Indeed, Washington state exported $607 million in products to Mexico in 2003, an increase of 40 percent from the previous year. During my 7-and-a-half years in office, the value of Washington’s average annual exports to Mexico is twice the amount as compared to the previous administration.
We value Mexico as one of our leading trade partners. It is our number one foreign export market for apples and within the top five for other agricultural commodities.
The goal of this mission was to further solidify our trade ties with Mexico as well as develop opportunities for our state’s agricultural, manufacturing and service sectors. We did just that.
It was an honor to have a personal meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox, as well as meetings with Secretary of Economy Fernando Canales (equivalent to our U.S. Secretary of Commerce) and Secretary of Agriculture Javier Usabiaga.
We addressed issues of great concern to Washington growers in those meetings; and we received assurances that these issues would be resolved in the very near future.
Valoria will expand on those issues in just a moment.
President Fox told me he is very interested in visiting Washington this fall. He also stressed his desire to improve the economic condition of his people, so they don’t feel have to migrate to the United States to find work.
We also promoted Washington apples and other products in markets in Mexico City and Guadalajara. It was great to see so many Washington products on display.
In Guadalajara, we met with government officials of our sister state, Jalisco. We are extremely proud of our sister state relationship with Jalisco, which began in 1996. It has resulted in a number of educational, cultural, business, government and medical exchanges. For example:
· Swedish Hospital has been active in Jalisco, recruiting and training Jalisco doctors and treating acute patients here in Seattle;
· Several colleges and universities in Washington have official relationships in Jalisco; and
· Most of the Mexican restaurant owners/operators in Washington state are from Jalisco.
As you can tell, we have strong trade ties with Mexico. This mission helped us further strengthen those ties, and establish many new relationships.
With more on what we accomplished, it’s my pleasure to introduce Valoria Loveland. Valoria…
Thank you Valoria. Now, I’d like to introduce Juli Wilkerson. Juli…
Thank you, Juli. Next up we’ll hear from some of the members of our trade delegation.
First, I’d like to introduce Richard Flaherty and Catherine Townsend-Flaherty with Leader International in Port Orchard.
Thank you Richard and Catherine. Next up, I’d like to introduce Greg Zaser (ZAY’-zer) with Keystone Fruit Company. Greg is also the co-founder of Mayan Heritage. He and his partner in that company, Rick Weis, had a very successful mission. Greg…
Thank you Greg. Now I’d like to introduce Roger Knutsen, owner of Knutsen Farms in Burlington, Washington. Roger is also a member of the Washington State Potato Commission and our state’s Economic Development Commission.
Thanks Roger. Roger also accompanied us on our 2000 trade mission to South Korea and Japan. We were pleased to announce last year the first-ever shipments of fresh Washington potatoes to South Korean potato chip manufacturers, a major breakthrough for Washington farmers.
Next up is Monty Montoya, CEO of the Northwest Lions Foundation for Sight and Hearing in Seattle. Monty is representing Mike Langhout, the foundation’s vice president, who was with us on the mission and is still traveling out of town this week. Monty…
Thank you Monty.
Our trade missions yield results. We provide opportunities for Washington businesses and farmers. We open doors.
That is especially true in Mexico. As a result of my first mission to Mexico, in August 1999 – along with the efforts of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and the Washington State Potato Commission – the historic first-ever shipments of fresh Washington potatoes were sent to Mexico in May 2003. Mexico is now our number four foreign market for fresh potatoes, going from “0” to “4” in just one year.
These missions truly benefit Washington businesses, farmers…and citizens. We are making a difference. And we’re making the “Made in Washington” label a symbol known and trusted around the world.