NewsBank InfoWeb

Access World News

Estimated printed pages: 2

Tulsa World

November 12, 1997
Page: E2

Mission Produces Free Trade Zone
Author: Shaun Schafer

Article Text:

A trade mission to Paraguay apparently will produce a free trade zone between the South American country and the southern Oklahoma town of Durant.

Kevin Chambers, director of the International Trade and Investment Division of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, said a trade mission that just returned from Paraguay yielded new opportunities for Oklahomans, including the offer of a free trade zone.

"This proposal is promising for Oklahoma businesses who desire to enter the MERCOSUR common market countries of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay," Chambers said.

The Paraguayan National Administration of Ports and Navigation proposed the free trade zone after learning of the efforts of Rural Enterprises Inc. to receive approval on a proposed free trade zone in southern Oklahoma. Rick Ford and Kenny Simpson of REI were members of the delegation, along with state House Majority Leader Rep. Tommy Thomas, state Sen. Dick Wilkerson and Susan Smith Nash, who represented the Commerce Department and organized the mission.

"The Oklahoma Trade Mission was of paramount importance to us as we seek to enter international markets," said Cesar Cruz, president of Paraguay's ports and navigation authority. "We are willing to officially offer a free trade zone for Oklahoma goods when the Oklahoma free trade zone is approved, and we would also like for Oklahomans to understand more about our Paraguayan Waterway Development project, which offers important investment opportunities. " Although the zone would be unable to affect tariffs between the nations, REI and Paraguay are evidently working to provide a set of services to traders between Oklahoma and the South American country.

During their mission, the Oklahoma delegation met with officials of the Paraguayan Ministry of Agriculture, Commerce and Industry, ProParaguay, the Paraguayan Senate and House of Representatives, the Association of Paraguayan Professionals Graduated in the United States, the Paraguayan-American Cultural Center, the Paraguayan-American Chamber of Commerce, and the ports and navigation authority.

According to Paraguay's Ministry of External Relations, the Oklahoma mission was the first trade mission ever from any U.S. state to Paraguay.

Copyright 1997 Tulsa World. World Publishing Co.
Record Number: 639153

Article Bookmark(OpenURL Compliant):Ole REIMission Produces Free Trade Zone (Tulsa World, November 12, 1997)