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Alabama trade mission targets opportunities in Peru, Uruguay

LIMA, Peru – Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield is leading an Alabama delegation that includes eight homegrown businesses on a week-long trade and business development mission that seeks to build commercial ties in Peru and Uruguay.

The Alabama team made its first stop in Lima, Peru’s industrial and financial center, where on Monday, June 2, it received a briefing on the country’s economy from the U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy. Later Monday, Secretary Canfield met with Edgar Vasquez, vice minister of foreign trade for Peru, for talks on ways to boost two-way trade.

“We are constantly working to open doors for Alabama businesses targeting new connections in overseas markets such as Peru and Uruguay because exports help lift Alabama’s economy and create jobs,” Canfield said. “At the same time, we want to forge new bonds on trade missions like this as a means of developing new relationships that we find can provide mutual economic benefit and lead to long-term growth for Alabama’s economy.”

EXPANDING TRADE WITH PERU

Hilda Lockhart, director of the Alabama Department of Commerce’s International Trade Division, said Peru represents an opportunity for export-minded Alabama companies in the wake of a free-trade agreement between the U.S. and the South American country that went into effect five years ago. Alabama exports to Peru topped $62 million in 2013, up from $9.5 million in 2009.

Lockhart said leading Alabama exports to Peru include vehicles and auto parts, wood pulp, metals, and industrial machinery. Alabama-made vehicles accounted for $25 million of that total in 2013, with the value of those shipments zooming 473 percent from the prior year.

Lockhart said Peru offers opportunities for Alabama companies providing industrial goods in the mineral and telecommunications sectors, industrial chemicals, food processing equipment, and healthcare information technology, among other things.

On Tuesday, Canfield met with officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the American Chamber of Commerce of Peru and Proinversion, an organization that is responsible for the execution of national private investment promotion policies. During these meetings, Canfield highlighted Alabama manufacturers and the busy port operation in Mobile, as well as the state’s suitability for trade and investment.

The Alabama delegation traveled overnight to Montevideo, Uruguay, where it will receive a briefing on that nation’s economic environment, tour the capital city’s port facilities and meet with government and business officials. On Thursday, the group will tour Ingenio, the nation’s leading information technology and innovation incubator, before starting the journey home Friday.

Alabama trade with Uruguay has been relative light – exports to the South American nation totaled $6.2 million in 2013 – but the market is seen as one that offers opportunities for state-based companies.

TRADE MISSION BENEFITS

Will Pugh of Birmingham-based Atlas RFID Solutions, which produces radio-frequency identification systems that help companies become more efficient, said the trip represents an ideal way for the company to make new connections in foreign markets. (Atlas RFID was in the Alabama delegation that traveled to Canada for a trade conference in July 2014.)

“For companies that have to be strategic about where they focus their sales and marketing resources, trade missions are a great way to make informed decisions,” he said. “The Alabama Department of Commerce can leverage its international connections and matchmaking experience to make international business development more efficient.

“My company, Atlas RFID Solutions, was able to make connections with decision-makers in new markets much more efficiently than we could have by developing contacts on our own,” Pugh added.

Other companies on the mission are System Controls (Trussville), Quality Valve (Mobile), Gulf Trading LLC (Mobile), Masland Carpets (Saraland), Process Barron (Pelham), SEPCO (Pelham) and PESA (Huntsville).

The Alabama Department of Commerce is being joined on the trade mission by Export Alabama Alliance members the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and the Alabama International Trade Center.

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