Embracing the cross-border relationship

Yesterday, the Arizona-Mexico Commission hosted the 2019 Governor’s Luncheon with special guest Martha Bárcena, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States.

Governor Doug Ducey and Ambassador Bárcena recognized the Arizona-Mexico Commission’s 60 years of relationship-building, recent economic growth and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The USMCA is the trade pact intended to succeed NAFTA, and it is expected to expand Arizona’s economy and strengthen trade with its neighbors in Mexico.

Arizona’s relationship with Mexico has generated jobs, economic improvement and trade opportunities throughout the state.

According to the United States Census Bureau, trade with Mexico increased 7.7 percent from 2017 to 2018, totaling $16.7 billion.

In his opening remarks at the luncheon, Gov. Ducey recognized Arizona and Mexico’s efficiency in united cargo processing.

“In recent years, the AMC has taken the things that we believe are entirely new level with efforts like the united cargo processing with our federal Mexican counterparts at our ports of entry [that are] so important to our international trade,” Gov. Ducey said.

Some of the efforts put in place to maintain and increase efficiency are truck inspections by the border liaison, the safety corridor from Lukeville to Puerto Peñasco and SkyBridge Arizona at Mesa Gateway Airport.

Ambassador Bárcena expressed her affection for Arizona’s welcoming atmosphere and its understanding of the challenges the region faces.

“This Arizona and Mexico relationship, in particular this very specific region of Sonora and Arizona, has resulted in thousands of new jobs, considerable tourism exchanges and a border that needs to work efficiently for the benefit of both Arizona and Mexico,” Ambassador Bárcena said.

As Arizona and Mexico work together and build the relationship, economic growth follows.   

“Nearly 5 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico and our bilateral trade runs at the rate of $1 million a minute. The trade among the three North American partners is $1.3 trillion a year,” Ambassador Bárcena explained.

The luncheon featured a ‘fireside chat’ with Gov. Ducey and Ambassador Bárcena, where they discussed a variety of topics including the USMCA.

“For trade and investment to thrive, we need a certainty and we need a legal framework. And, that legal framework that gives certainty is USMCA,” Ambassador Bárcena said.

She explained that the agreement, along with the relationship with Arizona, will benefit the economy of the Northern American countries and the wellbeing of northern Mexico.

“I think sometimes we can forget- or others can forget- how fortunate we are to have neighbors that are friends and allies and trading partners. So, the USMCA is an update. You can think of it as a new and improved NAFTA 2.0 that not only provides protection, but also opens markets,” Gov. Ducey said.

The ratification of USMCA is expected to expand Arizona and Mexico’s economies, impacting their small businesses.

“The biggest contribution [of small business] would be the creation of jobs on both sides of the border because most jobs are created by small and medium enterprise,” Ambassador Bárcena said.

When small business grows and trains existing or new employees, it provides them with the necessary skills to thrive in the workplace.

Ambassador Bárcena explained that the employee training will benefit the growing workforce, but the small businesses will still need support in that area.

Gov. Ducey and Ambassador Bárcena’s desire for mutual prosperity aligns with the AMC’s mission to foster a strong relationship between Arizona and Mexico and embrace the economic, geographic and cultural ties.

Established in 1959 by former Arizona Governor Paul Fannin, the AMC is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

“In 60 years of work with the AMC, if we’ve learned anything it’s that together we can achieve so much more. We’re proud of the unique culture and heritage of this region, we’re proud of the important progress we’ve achieved together,” Gov. Ducey said.

“I just want to close saying how much I appreciate the leadership of Governor Ducey with other governors, other colleagues. Without his leadership, other governors would not be so sympathetic to Mexico and the USMCA,” Ambassador Bárcena said.  

She told attendees, “He’s a respected governor among his peers, he is a leader among his peers and he represents Arizona with great pride. So, you should also be very proud of your governor.”

Sierra Ciaramella

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