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Governor Patrick Announces Trade Mission to Colombia to Pursue Job Growth and Economic Opportunity

Press Release

Location: Boston, MA

Governor Deval Patrick today announced he will lead a coalition of the Commonwealth's business executives and government leaders on a Massachusetts -- Colombia Innovation Partnership Mission to promote job creation and expand economic opportunity in the Commonwealth. Colombia has a thriving innovation, life sciences and clean energy economy, and this mission will strengthen the Commonwealth's partnership with Colombia and help create collaboration that will spur job creation in Massachusetts. The trip comes less than a year after the United States signed a free trade agreement with Colombia, opening up an estimated $1.1 billion market for U.S. exports; and continues the Commonwealth's reach into Latin America following recent missions to Brazil and Chile.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for Massachusetts to compete for jobs on the global playing field," said Governor Patrick. "We cannot afford to sit idle as our competitors develop the partnerships and secure the investments that will create jobs in the innovation industries where we already have an advantage - life sciences, clean energy, and the digital technologies."

"Massachusetts is a world leader on innovation, precisely one of the key drivers of President Santos's progressive economic agenda," said Carlos Urrutia, Colombian Ambassador to the United States. "We are pleased to be partnering with the Commonwealth to foster innovation industries, strengthen Colombia's research capabilities and support job creation in our respective economies."

From February 16-19, the Massachusetts-Colombia Innovation Partnership Mission will include stops in several cities throughout the country including Bogota and Cartagena. Over the course of the mission, the Governor and his delegation will meet with top Colombian government and business leaders including Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, Colombian Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon, Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, the Vice Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, and President of the Port Society of Cartagena Captain Alfonson Salas Trujillo. The Governor will also meet with the two national entities tasked with promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and research in Colombia: Colciencias and InnPulsa Colombia, and Colombia's national cabinet-level department tasked with developing and implementing policies to strengthen the innovation economy.

The Massachusetts-Colombia Connection:

With Latin America's fourth largest population and third largest economy, Colombia is one of the world's most rapidly emerging markets. Colombia's economy has experienced sustained growth in both the near and long-term, with national Gross Domestic Product doubling within the past ten years and topping Brazil in job creation last quarter. Microsoft, RIM, HP and Genpact have all made major investments in Colombia recently, fostering a strong job market in the digital technology and innovation economy. Over 24 percent of all Colombian graduate students are pursuing a degree in the life sciences fields, ranking Colombia among the highest in the world for graduate students studying to enter the life sciences sector.

Like Massachusetts, Colombia also has a strong medical device market, and this mission offers increased collaboration in the industry. The Massachusetts medical device industry employs almost 25,000 people in 400 medical device companies across the Commonwealth, and is responsible for creating more than 80,000 jobs in related industries.

"As companies headquartered in Massachusetts look to expand their market share in Latin America, Colombia is emerging as an important economic gateway, particularly in innovation, security, logistics, and development opportunities. Massachusetts will be among the first US states to lead a trade mission to Colombia, presenting Massachusetts companies with a distinctive edge as they compete to establish ties with Colombia," said Dan O'Connell, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership.

Several Massachusetts companies, particularly in the clean energy sector, have already experienced success in Colombia, including Big Belly trash compactors, Boston-headquartered hydro company Mavel and New Bedford electric vehicle company Vectrix. Colombia, like Massachusetts, is committed to growing its clean energy economy, and this mission will open new opportunities for collaboration on clean energy projects in the two countries.

Colombia has also recently launched Vive Digital, a program aimed at doubling national household internet connectivity within four years. Vive Digital parallels the work underway by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute to close the digital divide in Massachusetts and expand broadband availability in the underserved areas of Massachusetts.

Free Trade Agreement:

The United States and Colombia signed a Free Trade Agreement in May 2012, eliminating tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports, expanding trade and promoting economic partnerships for the two countries. The International Trade Commission (ITC) has estimated that the tariff reductions in the Agreement will expand exports of U.S. goods alone by more than $1.1 billion, supporting thousands of additional American jobs. The ITC also projected that the Agreement will increase U.S. GDP by $2.5 billion.

Last year, Massachusetts exported approximately $81.5 million to Colombia, making it the Commonwealth's 5th largest trade partner in Latin America and 33rd overall. The Commonwealth's exports to Colombia increased by 12.5 percent over the same period in 2011.

Previous Innovation Missions Result in Business Expansion:

In March 2011, Governor Patrick led a coalition of the Commonwealth's leaders on a mission to Israel and the United Kingdom. Following the mission, UK-based companies Cambridge Consultants, Sagentia and TotalMobile announced plans to expand and add jobs in Massachusetts. Israeli biotech firm EarlySense also announced it is adding jobs and establishing its U.S. headquarters in Waltham.

In December of 2011, Governor Patrick led a coalition of state government, education and business leaders on a trade mission to Brazil and Chile. The delegation visited Brazilian companies, universities and government leaders to highlight all that Massachusetts has to offer to Brazil. The mission focused on creating jobs in the life sciences, IT, clean energy and education sectors and solidifying the already strong Massachusetts-Brazil connection. During the trade mission to Chile and Brazil, Governor Patrick signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chile President Sebastian Pinera that expands collaboration between Massachusetts and Chile in the areas of clean energy, biotechnology and education; participated in EMC's groundbreaking of a new Big Data facility at Federal University in Rio de Janeiro; announced an agreement between Massachusetts-based Akamai and Sky Brasil, a Brazilian television subscription company, to bring online video rental services to the country; and announced an academic exchanges program between faculty and students from Brazilian and American Universities, including the University of Massachusetts system.

"Many AIM member companies want to increase and diversify their markets," said Kristen Rupert, Executive Director of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts International Business Council. "The best way to do that is meeting face-to-face with potential partners and government and business leaders. From our participation in the Brazil trade mission in 2011, we learned that doors open when traveling with Governor Patrick. We look forward to identifying business opportunities for Massachusetts companies in Colombia."

The Massachusetts-Columbia Innovation Partnership Mission will build on these successes and help Massachusetts reap the benefits of partnership in trade, investment and job growth with Colombia for years to come.

Official Delegation:

Governor Deval Patrick

Diane Patrick, First Lady of Massachusetts

Secretary Greg Bialecki, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development

Thomas P. Glynn, CEO & Executive Director, Massachusetts Port Authority

Susan Windham-Bannister, PH.D., President & CEO, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

Pamela Goldberg, CEO, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative

Alicia Barton, CEO and Executive Director, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center

Daniel O'Connell, President and CEO, Massachusetts Competitive Partnership

Kristen Rupert, Executive Director, AIM International Business Council (a program of Associated Industries of Massachusetts)

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