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LEAVITT FINDS MEXICAN IS KINDRED SPIRIT

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Reducing the size of federal government, restoring a balance of power to the states, cutting taxes, allowing private enterprise to assume functions now held by government - all are familiar themes in Gov. Mike Leavitt's much-publicized nationwide campaign to restore the balance of power be-tween state and federal gov-ern-ment.

But on Tuesday, it wasn't Leavitt stumping for those ideals. It was Jose Angel Gurria, Mexico's secretary of foreign relations, who met with Leavitt to explain Mexico's ongoing battle to transform Mexico's governmental system into one that, well, sounds a lot like what Leavitt is trying to accomplish in this country."Their philosophies of smaller government and the role of government are the same," said Charlie Johnson, Leavitt's chief of staff. "They are all Mike Leavitt themes, but this guy has been through them."

Leavitt is in Mexico as part of a Utah trade delegation to meet with Mexican officials about selling Utah products in Mexico. Leavitt and others in the Utah delegation came away impressed with what they saw.

"To those of us who have visited the border towns, we don't realize how vitalized this country is," Johnson said. "It has a great economic future. And the people running the country are very smart and very focused."

Gurria, an economist, has been a catalyst in governmental reform in Mexico that has led to dramatic reductions in inflation and unemployment, to a decentralization of federal government functions and the privatization of businesses previously owned and operated by the Mexican federal government. At one time, 1,500 businesses were owned by the federal government; now that number is down to 200.

But what does that mean for Utah? A whole lot, Johnson says.

Mexico is hungry for trade, but the technology to facilitate trade with the United States is not in place. Utah, as the second leading state in software shipments, could fill the role of providing the technology needed to make Mexico a major trading partner with the United States.

"They are very interested in the software and technology area," Johnson said. "You can have free trade, but if you don't know who needs what, when and where, and how it is to be delivered, you can't make the trade. That is where Mexico is at."

Software giants like Novell could find a ready market with Mexican companies who are looking for ways to immediately access U.S. markets. Mexican officials are also looking for U.S. companies willing to invest in Mexican businesses to make the jump into a worldwide economy.

What does Mexico have to offer Utah? A foot in the door to a Latin American market that numbers in the hundreds of millions.

Leavitt also met with Mexican banking officials and the secretary of education.