Texas A&M International University will be the site for an international gathering in March when it hosts a Western Hemispheric trade conference, inviting top decision makers from at least 15 countries in the continent to visit Laredo.
The conference, "Western Hemispheric Economies in the 21st Century," is scheduled to take place March 23-March 25. It is expected to draw nearly 150 participants eager to discuss the future of the Western Hemisphere not only in terms of NAFTA but other parameters as well.
Dr. Khosrow Fatemi, dean of the College of Business Administration and the Graduate School of International Trade and Business Administration, said that the conference will not only give A&M International and Laredo tremendous visibility in the Western Hemisphere, but also provide an opportunity for community members and students to interact with top leaders.
"I think people should take advantage of this opportunity and participate in the conference," Fatemi said, "The market for exporters south of Mexico is unbelievable, yet there is very little activity trying to export to those countries."
Fatemi also noted that such a Conference is not an opportunity that presents itself often and that this assembly was only made possible by the strong working relationship that the University has developed with leaders of each one of the participating countries.
Sponsors for the conference, the fifth of its kind, include A&M International and the Center for the Study of Western Hemispheric Trade. Additional support has been provided by Universidad Americana (Paraguay), Northern State University (South Dakota), University of Texas at El Paso, University of New Brunswick (Canada), Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (México) and Texas A&M University.
Participants in past conferences, held in Laredo and in San José, Costa Rica, have included several senior government officials from the United States and the rest of the Hemisphere, among them presidents, cabinet ministers and congressmen. This year's participants have been invited from Canada, México, Perú, Guatemala, Paraguay, Ecuador, Jamaica, Panamá, Venezuela, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Also expected to participate are two Texas congressional members, Charles Stenholm, Dist.17 and Bernice Johnson, Dist. 30. Seven state representatives and senators, including Laredo's, are also expected to attend. Other participants include a Commissioner of the U.S. International Trade Commission, the U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica, the chief of NAFTA in the Canadian Foreign Ministry and the chief of NAFTA in the Mexican Embassy in Washington.
Those attending the three-day conference will be able to hear a one hour presentation about the trade prospects of each participating country as related to the 21st Century economies. In addition, common interest sessions are planned and will include topics such as NAFTA, the role of Texas in the economic development of the Western Hemisphere and presentation of academic papers, Fatemi said.
"The conference is open to the public, and provides a tremendous opportunity for people to meet with top-level decision makers from many countries. I would encourage all of those who are intrigued by market expansion to Central and South America trade partners to attend. Given past conferences, the networking therein will provide important insights into our growing global economy," Fatemi said.
Conference highlights will also include the signing of several academic agreements with universities in Canada, México and Paraguay that will enable student and faculty exchanges and program development.
For more information, please contact the College of Business Administration at 326-2480. University office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.