Depending on who you talk to, it can be argued that Arizona’s relationship with Mexico, especially with our direct state neighbor to the south, Sonora, may be stronger than relationships with some other states this side of the border. Our ties to Mexico continue to grow and strengthen, and with a burgeoning manufacturing industry and always impactful produce pipeline, we can expect more hand-in-hand growth moving forward.
A few years ago, Arizona leaders from our state traveled to Mexico City to meet with delegates to declare that Arizona was open for more business opportunities and connections. Today, we enjoy a thriving relationship with Mexico that can be seen in the strong ties in the produce industry, for example. Arizona imports most of its produce from Sonora, which boosts our economy through jobs and sales. Arizona’s port of entry in Nogales continues to be a large driver of economic impact for the state and serves as the main entry in the country for everything from squash to peppers to cucumbers to tomatoes, which are literally the lifeblood of produce trade in Arizona.
This special relationship sets an example for other states and countries when it comes to building strong ties. Beyond sharing baskets of produce, Arizona and Mexico encourage each other through manufacturing. Combined with our neighbor to the south, the area is being touted as a “mega-region” in pulling together collective resources and highly-trained workforces to develop a major export hub. Other sectors including mining, automotive and health care are also contributing to the trend of manufacturing prosperity.
In 2017, two-way trade with Mexico reached nearly $16 billion, which resulted in 100,000 jobs here in Arizona. This is due in part to our healthy ports of entry, an example of fair and level back and forth trade. Systems like Unified Cargo Processing are helping to streamline the movement of goods and services through our shared ports with more safety and efficiency in processing.
“Arizona and Sonora have set an example of pragmatism that is already delivering results for the economy on both sides of the border,” said John Murphy, Senior Vice President for International Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “From the governor to the Arizona Chamber and members of the congressional delegation from both parties, the focus has been on delivering real solutions that support trade, growth, and jobs. There’s an innovative approach, exemplified by initiatives such as SkyBridge, that is really exciting.”
The office of Governor Ducey is proud of the durability of our relationship with Mexico, especially as both regions transition to different leadership and administrations.
“Times are changing on both sides when it comes to how they govern and how we govern. We came into office when there was a different governor in Sonora and then we adjusted to a new leader. Our White House changes and that was another sign of change and then their presidency changes. And then in the middle of that there are the negotiations for the new NAFTA, the USMCA, in just the last few years,” Juan Ciscomani, senior advisor of regional and international affairs for Governor Ducey’s office, said. “We haven’t had a one-sided approach to all this and have had to adapt and continue to make this a top priority while maintaining our other relationships.”
But all this agility has paid off and is projected to continue to do so. Ciscomani points to the Arizona-Mexico Commission’s efforts to boost trade through new commercial freight projects, such as the Commercial Safety Corridor that’s planned to stretch between Nogales and Guaymas and will boost productivity in freight.
Last November, Governor Ducey and Sonora’s Governor Pavlovich signed an agreement that helps to coordinate emergency medical transfers across the U.S. Mexico Border between Arizona and Sonora. They also expanded the Safety Corridor program from Sonoyta to Puerto Penasco, a 63-mile stretch of road shuttling travelers back and forth to promote safety and includes roads signs with safety messages in Spanish and English. There have also been a series of partnerships been Arizona and Sonora universities and educational institutions.
“Governor Ducey has signed 16 joint agreements with Sonora Governor Claudia Pavlovich since he took office,” adds a spokesman of the Arizona-Mexico Commission. “These agreements are the result of the Arizona-Mexico Commission binational committee work and have produced many accomplishments ranging in topics from health services to transportation projects.”
Tomorrow, Martha Bárcena, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States will be joining Gov. Ducey at the 2019 Governor’s Luncheon hosted by the Arizona-Mexico Commission. The event will focus on the issues facing both countries and opportunities for Arizona and Mexico in a new era of North American Trade.