Héctor Villareal
Director General
COMCE Noreste
View from the Top

Pushing the North to Turn to the South

By Gabriela Mastache | Sun, 12/22/2019 - 09:15

Q: Given the disappearance of organizations such as ProMéxico, what is the new role and relevance of COMCE Noreste at the current juncture?

A: We are implementing programs such as “You Can Export,” which is a program for companies that works in three phases. The first phase is to train the companies, especially SMEs, that want to internationalize. The second phase is consulting and mentorship, which includes a product diagnosis to define the markets in which their products could have demand. The third phase is the business contact. It is not only a matter of training and telling you how to do it, but to whom you should reach out to sell the product. We help them find clients or a possible distributor for their products. With this service, we are trying to help companies and motivate them to export.

Though a significant part of exports goes to the US and Canada, we are also starting to focus on Central and South America, as well as Europe and Asia. For Mexico and the northern states of the country, the natural export market tends to be the border, Texas and then the rest of the US. This has been a natural dynamic for us; however, the shift toward Central and South America will help with commercial diversification and thus dissipate the risk of focusing solely on a single market.

Q: How does COMCE Noreste support the internationalization of MSMEs?

A: A few years ago, we identified the need to provide guidance in terms of foreign trade, so we decided to generate a document in which we could set out the best practices for foreign trade of some of our partners. We worked on this for over a year with the participation of representatives from companies like Citrofrut, Coflex, Grupo Cuprum, Kansas City Southern of Mexico, Lamosa and Xignux, to review all the topics related to foreign trade that a company must be aware of to venture into the export business.

The idea was for the document to gather the experience of all these companies and to guide businesses. The document became a book and at the end of every chapter there are diagnostic quizzes so companies and even individuals can see where they stand and what they can improve to be more competitive.

Q: Where is COMCE Noreste concentrating its efforts?

A: In the past two years, we have received several visits from commercial representatives from almost every country in Central America that have a great deal of interest in Monterrey’s business community. We have had representatives from ProColombia, ProPeru and ProChile, for example, that are also members of the Pacific Alliance looking for commercial opportunities. These representatives present their countries’ opportunities and we invite companies to contact them.

In Europe, we are in contact with Mexican consulates. We have seen a lot of interest from German companies, and we even have a Foreign Trade Committee with the German Chamber of Commerce in Monterrey to analyze the existing opportunities and start planning commercial missions. We have collaboration agreements with the American Chamber, the Canadian Chamber, with the German Chamber, the Portuguese Chamber, and with the cities of Toronto and Laredo. It has been very interesting that we had opted to subscribe agreements with the city of Laredo.

Q: What specific actions can COMCE Noreste take to strengthen commerce promotion and investment attraction?

A: We are working with the Ministries of Economic Development of the states in our region, and have signed collaboration agreements with the states of Nuevo Leon, Durango and Coahuila. We hope to sign an agreement soon with Tamaulipas to work with them on promoting their state and the opportunities in the region as well.

Q: How is the COMCE Noreste working alongside the public sector to boost the competitiveness of its company members?

A: We help COMCE’s members review their foreign trade processes, their logistics processes, and their value chains. We work alongside the Monterrey Competitiveness Center, so if we need to correct a situation within any company, they can take action to support them. Although we specialize in foreign trade, there are other institutions that focus on other areas of the company. We also offer important training activities to improve the competitiveness of people and processes, from the operational level to top management.

The Mexican Foreign Trade Council Northeast Region (COMCE Noreste) is a private association that focuses on promoting foreign trade and exports of companies located in the states of Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Durango

Gabriela Mastache Gabriela Mastache Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst