Harris County Plays Host to Major Conference

Experts in trade and transportation are in Houston for a two day conference organized by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. Special focus will be on U.S. and México trade. Judge Emmett says Houston's port system plays a major part in that commercial relationship. Pat Hernandez has the story.

The first annual Harris County International Trade & Transportation Conference was originally planned for September, but Hurricane IKE rescheduled the event. It will feature major players in local, national and international transportation and trade.

“I hope attendees get a better understanding of the critical role that Harris County and the Houston area play, not only in United States commerce and North American commerce, but really, in global commerce.”

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett organized the conference. He says for obvious reasons, he wanted everyone to know how Houston is a gateway to international commerce.

“There’s been all this conversation about immigration and Mexico-U.S. relations, but the truth of the matter is we are economic partners, and we need to get beyond some of the other issues and focus on that economic partnership. And that’s why we’re having the second day focused almost entirely on Mexico.”

Jorge Canavati is vice president of the Mexico Business Association of San Antonio. He too will spread the message of Houston’ s role in global trade.

“Absolutely, we are firm believers in the regional development and the positive economic impact this brings Houston, San Antonio, Laredo, Corpus Christi and Mexico, and we must remember that we are a global community now, a global industrial trade and logistics community.”

Another speaker is Bruce Carlton. He is president of the National Industrial Transportation League. It is a Washington-based association that represents shippers and carriers here and abroad.

“The state of the global economy is a challenge that is daunting for everyone. We’re facing a Mount Everest style of challenge, and we need to get this global economy back on its feet. It might take some shock treatment to get there. We’ve got to do that. Then we can deal with the other issues.”

Judge Emmett calls the conference…a “baby step” start to what he hopes will be an event that grows in size and stature.

“In my previous life, before becoming county judge, I traveled around the world and went to transportation conferences all over, and it just dawned on me that we really ought to start our own transportation conference here ,and I really hope to see this become the transportational equivalent of the Offshore Technology Conference in a few years.”

More information on the conference can be found at

Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.