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Schaefer to talk with Mexico's chief executive Trade agreement is chief topic MARYLAND


Maryland's globe-trotting governor will dabble in foreign affairs again when he meets with Mexico's president about the ** North American Free Trade Agreement this month.

In his second international trip in as many months, Gov. William Donald Schaefer will meet with business and government officials July 16-20 in Guadalajara and Mexico City.

He will meet with Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and offer to drum up support in Maryland for the trade agreement, said Curt Matthews, a spokesman for the International Division of the state's Department of Economic and Employment Development (DEED).

An early supporter

Mr. Schaefer was an early supporter of the treaty -- which would eliminate trade barriers among the United States, Mexico and Canada -- because he believes it would help state businesses.

"I have been for the treaty almost from the very beginning," Mr. Schaefer said yesterday. "Of all the governors -- I've been on as many trips and have been as successful as any of them as far as international trade is concerned."

The Mexico trip will be his 13th trade mission since he became governor in 1987 and his second this summer. Last month, he traveled in Europe for 12 days, meeting with business leaders in Slovenia, Slovakia, Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands. Other missions have taken him to France, Japan, Singapore, Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Canada, Belgium, Russia and Taiwan.

Critical of State Department

Mr. Schaefer took a swipe at the U.S. State Department yesterday for not doing more to promote American companies )) abroad.

"There are very poor members of the State Department who are just too busy talking about themselves that they didn't understand that our companies could use some help," the governor said.

While in Mexico, the governor will be promoting more than 500 Maryland companies that provide products and services for environmental protection and pollution control, Mr. Matthews said.

The governor's itinerary includes meetings with Finance Secretary Jaime Serra Puche, American embassy officials and the Mexican Chamber of Commerce.

He will be accompanied by a bodyguard, DEED Secretary Mark Wasserman and Harold Adams, chairman of RTKL Associates Inc.

Mr. Adams will pay his own way, Mr. Matthews said. The mission will cost the state about $10,000.

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