MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield met with high-level officials in Uruguay’s capital Thursday to discuss ways to advance mutually beneficial opportunities as an Alabama trade and business development mission moved into its final phase.
Secretary Canfield, who is leading an Alabama delegation that includes eight businesses, said Thursday’s talks in Montevideo were meant to identify areas of cooperation in various industry sectors that would promote commercial arrangements and allow an exchange of best practices.
“Our two areas are very comparable in many ways and working together through all the friends we have made on this short trip will lead us to a great many long trips in the future,” he said.
The Alabama team began the mission on Monday, with meetings in Lima, Peru, before arriving in Montevideo on Wednesday.
AREAS OF MUTUAL INTEREST
On Thursday, Canfield visited the American Chamber of Commerce, where he highlighted Alabama’s business advantages to the organization’s president, Alvaro Scarpelli, and AmCham board members. The group questioned him about how Alabama’s economic output, measured at $190 billion annually, had grown to become nearly four times bigger than Uruguay’s Gross Domestic Product.
Canfield’s next stop was a visit to the National Port Administration for talks with agency President Alberto Diaz. During the discussion, they found numerous similarities in the operations of the seaports in Mobile and Montevideo and looked at opportunities for collaboration on how to ship more products.
Roberto Kreimerman, Uruguay’s Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining (MIEM), and Canfield agreed that they would pursue a number of areas of mutual interest including forestry, biotechical, and chemicals, among other key sectors. Minister Kreimerman was keenly interested in exploring best practices and how he could incorporate Alabama’s successful strategic activities in Uruguay’s economy.
Also on Thursday, U.S. Ambassador Julissa Reynoso to Uruguay hosted the Alabama delegation at her residence, with 50 guests attending. The Ambassador praised the Alabama delegation for arriving with broad goals. While most states bring a delegation comprised of just companies interested in doing business in Uruguay, she said, the Alabama team targeted more than business opportunities.
Canfield said the Alabama team traveled to South America with a two-fold mission.
“One, we want to explore all aspects of what we and the country of Uruguay can do to bond not only for business but for other opportunities as well. Whether it be education, tourism, or exchanging best practices, we want to learn from our friends in Uruguay, and for us to share what we know will work to better our two areas.
“Second, we have our companies here not jut to sell their products but to build on a very long term platform so that our two areas can grow together. We are here for the long haul and want to sustain this first step,” he added.
ASSESSING THE MISSION
John Wright of PESA, a Huntsville-based company that sells its advanced digital router switcher equipment around the world, was impressed by the meeting with the ambassador.
“The reception at the ambassador’s residence in Montevideo furthered business and social contacts,” he said. “She was very interested in our capabilities and the expansion of U.S. and Uruguayan business ties.”
Wright said he considers the entire mission to be a success for his company.
“This mission affords us the opportunity to present our capabilities to the Latin America marketplace, which is key to expanding our sales in the region,” he said. “The direct meetings with potential customers in both countries should result in several near-term opportunities and the establishment of long-term relationships.”
The trade and business development mission concluded today with Secretary Canfield’s interview with Cronicas Economicas, a Spanish-language publication focusing on economics.