Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch has signed a letter of intent pledging to improve the commercial and educational connections between Indiana and the Mexican state of Hidalgo.
The signing was a highlight of Crouch's five-day Mexican trade mission that ended Thursday. While not legally binding, the agreement calls for enhanced cooperation between Indiana and Hidalgo in areas such as agriculture, tourism and science and technology.
"Signing this letter with Hidalgo is a win for both states, but now the real work begins," Crouch said. "With this agreement as our roadmap, we look forward to upholding our end of the bargain and capitalizing on this opportunity."
Hidalgo is one of the 32 Mexican states and is home to 2.9 million people. It's about half the size of Indiana and located north of the national capital of Mexico City.
Crouch led a delegation of 27 Hoosier agriculture and tourism leaders in meetings with their business and government counterparts in Hidalgo, as well as Mexico City, seeking to grow the $10 billion in existing economic ties between Indiana and Mexico, and to promote Indiana as a tourism destination.
"Mexico is relationship-driven," said Bruce Kettler, Indiana agriculture director. "As connected as we are today, there's still no substitute for face-to-face conversation, so these meetings were invaluable to growing our, already strong, agricultural and economic ties."
Crouch concurred. "We want Mexico to know that Indiana is open for business and that we're committed to developing and enhancing our relationship with them," she said.
Indiana is the first American state to send a high-profile delegation to Mexico following its June ratification of U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that aims to improve upon the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The USMCA is expected to be considered by the U.S. Congress later this year.