Mexico Consul Guillermo Ordorica met separately with Gov. Steve Bullock, Carroll College President Tom Evans and other leaders in Helena Tuesday to discuss ways Montana and Mexico could increase their economic and cultural ties.
Ordorica told Bullock’s staff “he wanted this to be the year of Montana,” reported the governor’s communications director Dave Parker.
“Wheat and cereal products are our No. 1 export to Mexico,” said Parker. And Mexico is ranked as Montana’s seventh largest trade partner.
Bullock and Ordorica also talked about cultural exchange opportunities, said Parker, particularly focusing on university exchanges involving high-tech industries and technologies and also the possibility of developing sister-state and sister-city relationships.
Educational exchange was the main topic of a meeting late Tuesday afternoon at Carroll College’s Artaza Center for Excellence in Global Education.
“It’s the first time I met with them,” said Evans. “We discussed the environment of higher education in Montana and Mexico,” and reciprocal exchanges of higher education, innovations and research.
“They have a pretty healthy goal,” Evans said. “They want 50,000 (Mexican) students attending college in the U.S. by 2018. That’s a significant increase from the current 14,000.”
They also want 50,000 U.S. students to attend college in Mexico, as part of their Project 100,000, Evans said.
“We looked at models of educational exchanges,” Evans said. “I think it was a very good discussion. It was an introductory meeting for sure.”
“Typically ... they take back their understanding of Carroll College,” he said of what would happen next. “They often serve as sort of a matchmaker,” and would offer match ideas with institutes of higher education in Mexico that might want to work with Carroll College.
Consul Ordorica is headed to Bozeman on Wednesday, said Ordorica, who stopped by with several staff members to meet with the Independent Record editorial board Tuesday.
“With the anniversary of NAFTA approaching, we want to increase our connections,” said Ordorica, saying the Montana stop was “a courtesy visit” to touch base and follow up on a visit made last year.
Mexico and the United States share common values, he said, referring to common beliefs in democracy, human rights and commerce.
Mexico has a stable democracy and stable economy, said Ordorica. “It’s ranked as the 14th largest economy in the world.”
“Great things are happening,” he said. “Mexico has a very dynamic president and is a very dynamic country.”
Stationed at the Mexican Consulate in Boise, Idaho, Ordorica works with Idaho and Montana, in particular, to foster a cooperative environment for business opportunities and cultural exchanges, he said.
Economic opportunities between Mexico and Montana could complement each other, he said. “We are ready to receive investment in Mexico. In Mexico, oil is state owned,” but the country is encouraging investment and partnerships on oil refining and petro chemical development.
“Mexico is a leader in aeronautics,” he added. This industry and others could present opportunities for future products to be produced jointly in Mexico and the United States, he said. They could be branded as Made in North America, similarly to products now produced jointly by several European countries and labeled Made in Europe.
Tourism is important to both Montana’s and Mexico’s economies, said both Parker and Ordorica.
Tourism is the third largest industry in Mexico, Ordorica said, and he cited UNESCO world heritage recognition for Mexican cuisine and the ancient Mayan site Calakmul.
A growing area is medical tourism, he added, which is drawing a growing number of U.S. citizens to Mexico for surgery and medical treatment. Mexico is also home to the largest number of Americans living abroad.
The Mexican Consulate office in Boise, now in its fifth year of operation, serves a geographical region where 250,000 Mexicans or those of Mexican origin live, Ordorica said. One of 50 Mexican consulate offices in the United States, it serves primarily Montana and Idaho and parts of Nevada and Oregon. The Boise office also offers a mobile consulate office, which periodically visits Montana. The consulate provides assistance to Mexican citizens and those of Mexican origin on such things as visa forms and immigration applications and helps secure copies of birth and death certificates.