PATRICK PURSUING DIRECT FLIGHT TO MEXICO
CITY, SEES BIZ POTENTIAL IN COUNTRY
By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
BOSTON, APRIL 22, 2014……Voicing optimism about trade prospects in
Central America, Gov. Deval Patrick said Tuesday he hopes to help
establish a direct flight between Boston and Mexico City this
“We hope to close before the end of this calendar
year on a direct flight,” Patrick told business leaders gathered
at an Associated Industries of Massachusetts breakfast event.
Patrick told reporters he is in discussions with two carriers -
Interjet and AeroMexico – about a non-stop connection.
Mexico is the Bay State’s third largest international trading
partner after Canada and China, and trade with Mexico is growing
three times as fast as it is with those other countries, said AIM
President Rick Lord. Mexico purchases 7 percent of Massachusetts
products purchased oversees, Lord added.
Mexico in March, his first trip there as governor, and said he was
struck by a “remarkable change in regulatory framework” that will
allow for a “radically different” approach to generating
“Over there, there are no dogmas,” said Ramon
Alberto Sanchez Pina, assistant director of the sustainability and
environmental management program at Harvard University’s Division
of Continuing Education.
Sanchez Pina said leaders in
Mexico are willing to hear arguments for how change would benefit
health and the environment, not just the bottom line. He said
Mexico is seeking a dramatic increase in the amount of renewable
energy used in the country, and suggested power generators in
America would be less willing to consider changes to benefit the
environment than those in Mexico.
“One thing I sensed… is
that Mexican business leaders and to some extent government
leaders feel that we as a nation have underestimated or
undervalued the opportunity to do business in Mexico,” said
Patrick, who likened the growth potential to that of Google and
Facebook when they were fledgling companies. He said, “We have
many, many, many more opportunities to seize.”
founder of Harvest Power, said he had gone on the trip with
Patrick and determined Mexico City with its 25 million people and
the largest produce market in all of Latin America holds potential
for the company that turns organic waste into fuel and fertilizer.
“We have a real live project,” said Sellew, who is in
discussions with potential partners in Mexico where he said
landfills are filled to capacity. He said, “It was a very
The state Republican party has at times
used Patrick’s trade missions overseas to question his focus on
problems back home in Massachusetts. Patrick visited Singapore,
Hong Kong and Japan late last year, and in March he traveled to
Panama and Mexico.
Patrick said Mexican Consul General in
Boston Daniel Hernandez Joseph was “absolutely persistent”
encouraging Patrick to travel to Mexico.
“I think we are a
nation of opportunities for Massachusetts,” said Hernandez Joseph,
who said the country has embarked on fiscal reforms, plans to
boost its investment in research and development to 1 percent of
gross domestic product, and made changes in its energy policy.
Hernandez Joseph said Mexico has gone from the state’s sixth
largest trading partner to third largest and Mexico is opening a
trade office in Boston.
Illegal immigration from and
through Mexico has been the subject of intense debate on the
national level and within U.S. border states where there are also
worries about the power of criminal drug rings that have a
foothold in the northern part of Mexico.
businesses seeking to enter the market in Mexico should establish
themselves in the country and find local partners.
Paula Murphy, director of the
Massachusetts Export Center, a government agency, told
the News Service the small businesses she assists generally have
challenges in the international marketplace marketing overseas,
finding partners and maneuvering through regulations, especially
when technology could have a military use.
sought to boost the domestic economy in part by offering new means
for foreign students to stay in Massachusetts as business people,
proposing a global entrepreneur in residence program in
partnership with local educational institutions for international
students that are eligible but unable to obtain an H-1B visa due
to the federal cap.
Lord said AIM supports Patrick’s visa
proposal, but said most companies in the group, which generally
represents large corporations and manufacturers, are opposed to
another of the governor’s proposals to ban non-compete clauses in
contracts. Non-compete clauses are legal tools that can prevent
employees from working at another company in the same field for a
period of time.
“Many companies say to us it’s important
for us to protect confidential information and intellectual
property. This is a tool we use in order to do that, and doing
away with them will make us more vulnerable to people leaving and
taking trade secrets with them,” Lord told the News Service. He
said, “There’s been legislation to either eliminate or reduce
non-compete agreements for the past five or six years,” but the
bills had never gained traction.
The Patrick administration
has argued that non-compete clauses, which have been banned in
California, can stifle innovation and the governor has proposed
other measures to protect trade secrets.
Patrick met in
Mexico with the son of Carlos Slim, one of the world’s richest men
and a philanthropist through the Carlos Slim Foundation.
“We see some opportunities there,” Patrick told reporters when
asked about that meeting.