Christophe Smitz
Wallonia Export-Investment Agency – AWEX
Expert Contributor

Looking Beyond Mexico City

By Christophe Smitz | Thu, 10/14/2021 - 13:07

As the trade office of Wallonia within the Embassy of Belgium in Mexico, our mission is to maximize the development of commercial relations between our region and Mexico. Waiting for Walloon companies to contact us is not enough.

Just like private companies, we must do our own marketing assessments. Throughout the year, we organize prospecting activities that allow us to meet Mexican companies and identify business opportunities. The first step is to identify the most promising sectors for our companies in Wallonia. Then, we assess whether there is a match with the local economy and its stakeholders.

Wallonia in Belgium has many state-of-the-art companies in various sectors but we can segmentize them into major activities where they are well-known for their added value and competitive advantage:

  • Health sector: biotechnologies, pharma, and medical devices
  • Chemistry and geochemistry
  • Agri-food
  • Aeronautics and space
  • Mechanical engineering and metallurgy
  • Information technologies

In the first half of 2021, total exports from Wallonia to Mexico were €57.5 million, 8.1 percent higher than in the same period in 2020 and even 14.4 percent higher than in 2019. Nearly half of these exports are in the chemical industry and pharma sector. A quarter of them belong to the mechanical machinery and equipment sector and about 6 percent to the food sector.

Key Walloon companies are present in Mexico. In the health and pharma field, some examples are UCB, a global champion in neurology and immunology; IBA, a world leader in radiotherapy; or OncoDNA in advanced cancer diagnostics. In the agricultural sector, we have Rosier, a fertilizer manufacturer; and Castle Malting, a provider of a Belgian specialty malt used in Mexican beers. In the industrial sector, the presence of John Cockerill (an important mechanical engineering, machinery and steel group), Automatic Systems, Indusys, Joskin and Menart are noteworthy, among many others.

Business opportunities are available in Mexico City with the right targeting (second stage of the marketing approach) but we feel the strong need to go beyond, explore new cities and expand our horizon for the remainder of 2021.

Last September, we were present at the fourth edition of FAMEX 2021, the Mexican aerospace fair at the new Santa Lucia airport, as Wallonia has one of the most predominant clusters of the sector in Europe, in addition to the fact that Liege Airport is the seventh-biggest cargo airport in Europe with three weekly direct flights to Mexico City.

In October, we will visit the ANTAD & Alimentaria fair in Guadalajara. Walloon products will be on display at the European Delegation stand and we have arranged various meetings with potential partners and buyers for our companies. Chocolate, beers and Belgian fries are our most famous products and all are available in Mexico but waffles, biscuits and other delicacies can also be bought or are willing to conquer Mexicans consumers.

During our four-day stay in this great city, we are also approaching companies, organizations, and major stakeholders in various sectors, namely IT, health, mechanical engineering and metallurgy. 

In November, we will also be present at the Hotel Expo in Cancun as a mission is being planned in this field for 2022. It is crucial to stay ahead and strive to develop our network in advance to be able to serve our companies with better data and first-hand contacts.

For next year, we’re already planning a visit to Monterrey to participate in Expo Manufactura, an industrial fair with a strong focus on the hydrogen sector, which was the subject of our last article for Mexico Business News.

Going beyond CDMX means strengthening our ties with all Mexicans, who always welcome us with open arms and help us to develop our network and discover more about this huge and fascinating country. We consider that it is key not to limit ourselves to one-shot events and to try to visit the same places at least twice a year. It is a condition to foster a real network and to gain a better understanding of the local specificities, needs and actors.

Photo by:   Christophe Smitz