Luis Rojas
Director General
Foreign Trade Promotion Coordinator (COFOCE)
View from the Top

Working Locally to Succeed Globally

Thu, 09/01/2016 - 16:02

Q: How has COFOCE helped companies of all sizes to internationalize?

A: Created in 1992, the objective of COFOCE is to promote internationalization among all companies. Initially we focused on vocational segments but we have expanded our reach in response to industry growth in Guanajuato. We can now visualize complete integration of all vocational segments in the state. Part of our job is to find companies with the best opportunities in the market. We have several development programs and are working with the Secretary of Economic Development and the Guanajuato Automotive Cluster (CLAUGTO).

Q: With many new OEMs establishing plants in Guanajuato, which subsectors have the best growth opportunities?

A: The leather cluster was among the first to benefit from this growth, along with the metallurgy sector. We are now seeing considerable development in other industries such as fabrics and plastics. These industries are based on strong molding, plastic injection and chemical processes that can also apply to the automotive sector. Other sectors including transportation and food and beverages have shown signs of development thanks to an indirect relationship with the automotive industry.

Q: Where do you see opportunity for companies to begin exporting their products and how do you help them with the process?

A: Depending on the firm’s position in the market, suppliers may need to certify processes and build up installed capacity. We help these companies obtain ISO 9000 and TS 16949 certifications, we feature them in our brochure and promote them at events in which we participate. We put them in contact with the purchasing departments of the most important OEMs in Mexico and abroad. Companies interested in moving their operations to the automotive market may need guiding in this process, for which we have formed strategic alliances with the Mexican Industrial Supplier Association (APIMEX) and CLAUGTO. This is a much longer and perhaps a more expensive process than the first scenario, which means that companies must stick to their current line of business until the transition is complete.

We work with several agencies including JETRO and JICA in Japan, the German Embassy and the German Expat Program, as well as several chambers of commerce and marketing organizations like ProMéxico. We coordinate all these efforts to offer companies the best experience in the market. Guanajuato now has both a Japanese and German honorary consul. Several new German investments are expected in the state, adding to the current US$1.65 billion and more than 11,000 jobs this community has generated. Dutch, Italian, Polish and Spanish companies, to name a few, have also played a significant role. Mexican companies forming joint ventures with different multinational companies is an emerging trend.

Q: Following the TPP Agreement, how do you see direct and indirect exports being affected in the state?

A: There will definitely be drastic change post-TPP and it is clear we will have to strengthen our skills especially in labor, industrial property and environmental strategies. At a macroeconomic level, the TPP will generate many more investment opportunities but will also mean we will have to improve our trade and logistics infrastructure. Many Asian companies are expected to start expanding into the NAFTA market so we must be prepared for the moment borders open. Local firms will have to either consider partnerships with these companies or strengthen their operations to stay competitive in the market.

Q: How important is human capital development for Guanajuato’s industrial growth?

A: Human capital development is crucial in this industry. Most companies considering entering the automotive market are financially stable, which means increased employment. To satisfy existing and potential talent demand, we have several collaborative programs with international organizations such as JICA to focus on developing knowledge and expertise in the automotive industry. Mexico has truly competitive labor costs but one day other regions might emerge with lower costs. If our entire industry is based solely on this advantage we will lose our competitive edge.