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W.Va. companies go to Mexico on export mission

Charleston Gazette graphic by Tye Ward
Charleston Gazette graphic by Tye Ward

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On Monday, Brad Caserta met with two company chief executives he thought were too big to give him the time of day.

Caserta was in Mexico City, representing Huntington-based Steel of West Virginia.

“Sitting down and meeting with the executives of that caliber of companies was pretty amazing,” Caserta said. “They gave me an hour and didn’t even push me out the door.”

Steel of West Virginia is one of nine Mountain State companies on an export trip to Mexico led by the West Virginia Development Office’s International Division. The development office coordinated with the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Enybe Diaz, a West Virginia Commerce international trade representative on the trip, said the U.S. Commerce Department is providing the West Virginia business delegation with the services they on the trip. The department has offices in Mexico’s three largest markets: Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara.

Diaz sees Mexico as a nation full of business opportunities. In 2012, West Virginia exported $239 million worth of goods to Mexico, according to the West Virginia Commerce Department.

“Exports bring a lot of good things to companies,” Diaz said. “If companies have a good market in the U.S., then they probably have markets in other countries too.”

Diaz hopes the companies on the export trip increase sales and profit while growing with newly developed business relationships.

“These types of trade missions have become a very successful part of our strategy to increase West Virginia’s presence in the global market. The missions provide West Virginia business owners with the opportunity to meet face-to-face with international executives who are interested in their products,” West Virginia Secretary of Commerce Keith Burdette said in a press release. “We’ve seen great results from these missions in the past, and I look forward to hearing about what they accomplish over the next several days.”

The state’s commerce department takes two to four export trips a year, Diaz said.

West Virginia exports are on the rise.

In 2000, exports accounted for 5.4 percent of the state’s gross domestic product, and by 2012, it was 16.3 percent of the state’s GDP, according to the 2014 West Virginia Economic Outlook..

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