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ARCHIVED  December 1, 1996

Regional exporters reap benefits of NAFTA trade

At least one acronym has been good for Northern Front Range exporters.

The region’s agribusinesses are beginning to see a sharp increase in shipments of beef and other products to Mexico due to NAFTA, and the free-trade agreement has also improved trade relations with Canada, already a major trading partner with Colorado, trade experts say.
The North American Free Trade Agreement eliminated most tariffs on trade among Canada, the United States and Mexico. Another pact, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, has spurred free trade on a global basis.
With these two trade agreements, Northern Front Range businesses are expected to increase exports over time, industry observers say.
Canada is a major buyer of high-tech products manufactured in Northern Colorado.
“We have already seen a drastic increase of trade in agriculture here,´ said Rutilio Martinez, director of the NAFTA Business Center at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.
Farmers in Northern Colorado have begun exporting a greater volume of beans, onions and vegetables to Mexico since the agreement took effect, he said.
“It’s a direct result of NAFTA,” Martinez added.
The agreement began opening trade channels between the United States and Mexico about three years ago, he said.
Although the agreement has eliminated some tariffs, it has resulted in a greater volume of paperwork.
“That has been a nightmare,” Martinez said.
Exports of computer peripherals, software, telecommunications products and scientific equipment from Northern Colorado to Mexico have increased, he said.
Martinez, an economist, said he expects the export market to Mexico to continue to grow over time.
“It will be much bigger market, but it will take several years,” he said. “Mexico will demand more high-tech products and more foodstuffs.”
The NAFTA Business Center in Greeley provides small businesses with information about international trade under NAFTA guidelines.
Although agricultural trade is on the increase, overall exports from Colorado to Mexico declined in 1995, said Morgan Smith, director of the Colorado Office of International Trade in Denver.
He noted the collapse of Mexico’s economy in 1994 that drastically cut the country’s buying power. With the devaluation of the peso, Mexico’s purchasing power fell by about 40 percent, he said. Even so, Mexico ranks as the 12th-largest trade market for Colorado.
“In the long run, NAFTA will help open up markets in Mexico and Latin America,” Smith said.
However, he pointed out that Canada represents a much larger trade market for Colorado.
Last year, the state exported $655 million worth of manufactured goods to Canada, while it exported only $98 million worth of manufactured goods to Mexico.
“Canada is a very important trade partner for Colorado,” he said, noting that high-tech products are a major export there.
Mike Kelley, public-relations director for Hewlett-Packard Co. in Greeley, said it’s difficult to see any direct impact from the new trade agreements on the company’s export business because Mexico and Canada have always been strong markets for the computer manufacturer.
“We’ve always had a strong focus on overseas markets,” he said. “If anything, it’s made it easier to deal with those two countries.”
However, he said Hewlett-Packard has had operations in both Mexico and Canada for about 20 years.
Lucille Mantelli, director of public affairs for Eastman Kodak Co. in Windsor, said the company hasn’t seen much impact from the trade agreements on its business here.
“We were exporting before,” she said. Kodak also has operated plants in both Mexico and Canada for some time, she said.
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At least one acronym has been good for Northern Front Range exporters.

The region’s agribusinesses are beginning to see a sharp increase in shipments of beef and other products to Mexico due to NAFTA, and the free-trade agreement has also improved trade relations with Canada, already a major trading partner with Colorado, trade experts say.
The North American Free Trade Agreement eliminated most tariffs on trade among Canada, the United States and Mexico. Another pact, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, has spurred free trade on a global basis.
With these two trade agreements, Northern Front Range businesses are expected…

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