KAI RYSSDAL: The Bush administration’s been spending a lot of time this year south of the border. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez was in Mexico back in February. The president traveled there last month. Today was Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s turn. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace’s Dan Grech reports.
DAN GRECH: On Secretary Paulson’s agenda: a meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderón and other top Mexican officials. He also found time earlier today to visit a small juice factory in Mexico City called Bebidas Sanas, which means Healthy Beverages.
The U.S. Treasurer, Anna Escobedo Cabral, was with him on the tour.
ANNA ESCOBEDO CABRAL: It was a phenomenal small enterprise that’s done great things. In the last 25 years, I think they went from something like 52,000 liters a year to 1.8 million liters a year. They went from employing just a handful of people to employing 53 people annually. It’s really I think was a tremendous success story.
Secretary Paulson then held a town hall meeting with small-business owners and financiers. Escobedo Cabral says a number of themes emerged.
ESCOBEDO CABRAL: Clearly, access to capital for small businesses is an issue. To compete globally is an issue. Having the opportunity to grow from these fairly small and medium-sized businesses to larger businesses is an issue.
Secretary Paulson says he’s working with Mexican officials to make more money available to small businesses.
Jeffrey Davidow was ambassador to Mexico from 1998 to 2002. He says Paulson is wise to focus on eliminating poverty by creating jobs.
JEFFREY DAVIDOW: There’s a new focus in Mexico on what has to be done to create jobs so that people can live decently, don’t have to migrate to cities, don’t have to migrate to the United States.
This is Secretary Paulson’s third trip to Latin America in 10 months on the job.And he’s planning yet another one — an “extended” tour in July.
I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.
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