International commercial officers from the United States Commercial Service (CS) provided insight into the cultural and business situations that present unique opportunities for exporting surplus equipment to our southern neighbors in Mexico and Panama. The CS is the trade promotion arm of the United States Department of Commerce, which in turn is part of the State Department. Commercial Service officers are posted throughout the world (generally in the U.S. Embassy if posted abroad). 
 
Combined with U.S.-based commercial officers, the CS is well prepared to provide U.S.-based companies with market intelligence, trade counseling, business matchmaking and trade advocacy worldwide. (The counterpart to the CS for companies based in Canada is the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service) U.S./Mexico commercial ties that bind Geoffrey Bogart, U.S. Commercial Consul in Monterrey, Mexico began his presentation with a quote from a speech made in 2009 by President Barack Obama in Mexico City. “It is difficult to overstate the depth of ties between our two nations or the extraordinary importance of our relationship. Our economic ties mean that whatever steps we’re going to take moving forward have to be taken together.” 
 
In his 2010 State of the Union Address, President Obama announced the creation of the National Export Initiative with a goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years. Because of their proximity and the ease of exporting as a result of NAFTA, Mexico and Canada are priority markets for U.S. exports. 
 
Wide need for surplus.
Mr. Bogart emphasized the relative ease of crossborder commerce with Mexico, underscored by the fact that almost $150 billion was exported to Mexico from the U.S. in 2010. There are unique regional markets for surplus products and equipment in Mexico. Overall, the best prospects for refurbished equipment are agricultural machinery, medical equipment (particularly for private hospitals), manufacturing machinery including packing equipment, vehicles of all types, construction equipment, 
 
IT, transportation and infrastructure equipment. 
Unique among most exporting opportunities is that many sales to Mexican firms and even municipalities can be made in the U.S. Auctions in U.S. border cities, particularly in Texas, have many Mexican bidders. 
 
Panama: the crossroads of the world
Dan Crocker, Senior Commercial Officer, painted a different picture for potential exporters to Panama. Unlike Mexico with a population of 111 million, Panama has a population of just 3.5 million. However, the opportunities for trade with Panama are greatly expanded due to the annual procurement needs of the Panama Canal, and the $5 billion planned Canal expansion. IR opportunities in Panama. Panama is a safe country with a dollarized economy, a sophisticated banking sector, a stable economic and political environment, plus an affinity for U.S. goods. Importantly, with the Panama Canal itself and the Colon Free Trade Zone, the world’s second largest duty free trade zone located at the Atlantic gateway to the Canal, the opportunities for investment recovery are substantial. The Canal and Port expansion presents a huge need for construction equipment. As a sophisticated regional distribution hub, many multinational organizations have regional headquarters, requiring shipping materials and office equipment. 
 
Airport and infrastructure expansion represent tens of billions in announcedprojects for mass transit, roads and water treatment plants with more projects to come. And as in much of the developing world, Panama has a growing need for used medical equipment. 
 
Selling Surplus in Mexico and Panama  Speaker: Daniel Crocker, U.S. Commercial Service, daniel.crocker@trade.gov. Speaker: Geoffrey Bogart, U.S. Commercial Service, geoffrey.bogart@trade.gov 
 
Reprinted from ASSET 2.0, the Investment Recovery Business Journal, Vol. 2, 2011

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