NM exports to Mexico doubled last year

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rer0228114i/A1/02.28. 2014/Roberto E. RosalesPictured is a cargo entering Mexico through the Santa Teresa Port of entry after leaving New Mexico. Will the Mexican side of the border be able to handle the additional truck traffic once the Union Pacific train depot opens?Santa Teresa, New Mexico.Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s exports to Mexico nearly doubled in 2014 to $1.55 billion, earning the Land of Enchantment bragging rights as the state with the highest percentage growth in exports to Mexico nationwide.

State exports south of the border jumped 93 percent, up from $800.7 million in 2013, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce. That far outpaced Montana, the state reporting the second-highest growth rate for exports to Mexico last year, up 66 percent.

More than half of New Mexico’s exports to Mexico are originating from Doña Ana County, most of that from the border industrial parks at Santa Teresa, said Jerry Pacheco, executive director of the International Business Accelerator.

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Computer equipment and components are the number-one commodity heading from New Mexico southward, nearly all of which to supply the huge Foxconn plant across the border from Santa Teresa and other “maquila” assembly factories in Mexico, Pacheco said.

“Foxconn is doing up to 50,000 computers a day at the plant, with companies at Santa Teresa supplying a huge percent of the equipment and components for it,” Pacheco said. “And Foxconn recently started to produce flat screen TVs at the plant, and it’s consolidating operations there with companies like Hewlett Packard and others, all of which provides more opportunities for companies based in Santa Teresa.”

The next highest category of New Mexico exports heading southward include steel, fabricated steel and packaging materials, reflecting supply shipments from Santa Teresa-based companies to Mexico’s maquila industry.

“We’ve been trying for more than two decades to take advantage of Mexico’s maquilas to create an industrial base here, and it’s really paying off at Santa Teresa,” Pacheco said. “We’re really getting the word out nationally and internationally that we’re open for business, and that Santa Teresa is situated perfectly to supply Mexico’s industry. I think we’ve reached the tipping point.”

Some 65 companies currently operate at the industrial parks at Santa Teresa, with 99.99 percent of the buildings there now filled up. With support industries for those companies also growing, some 4,000 employees now work in and around the industrial parks, Pacheco said.

New Mexico’s exports southward helped push the state’s total exports up 39 percent last year, from $2.73 billion in 2013 to $3.8 billion. That’s the state’s highest export total ever, representing early $1 billion more than the last peak year in 2006, when state exports reached $2.9 billion.

Exports have grown to other regions of the world, fueled in part by state efforts to provide export assistance to local companies to take more advantage of global markets.

Exports to Europe, for example, grew by 81 percent last year, from $348 million in 2013 to $633 million. Exports to the Middle East, as well, rose by 11 percent, from $816 million in 2013 to $902 million.

But while exports in general do appear to be growing, some of that activity reflects the ebb and flow of shipments from Intel Corp. in Rio Rancho to its sister facilities in places like Israel. About 90 percent of New Mexico exports to the Middle East last year went to Israel, the vast majority of those shipments being computer-related electronics and components.

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