International trade offices part of 2020 state budget

Recently, Gov. Doug Ducey signed an $11.8 billion spending plan for the coming budget year that focuses on making strategic investments in everything from education to public safety to infrastructure.  One provision of the budget looks to build on relationships with international partners and strengthen our ties in terms of trade. A total of $275,000 is being dedicated to establish a trade office for Arizona in Israel as well as Chihuahua and Guanajuato, Mexico.

“This new trade office makes perfect sense,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer said. “During Gov. Ducey’s first term in office, he has made clear Arizona’s support for a strong Arizona-Israeli relationship. From technological innovation, to water stewardship, to defense and aerospace, to GDPs that are almost of equal size, we have so much in common. Israel is known worldwide as the Startup Nation. Arizona is the Startup State. Arizona and Israel are a great match.”

Last May, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce US-Israel Business Initiative signed a memorandum of understanding to create a partnership with a goal of supporting economic and commercial ties between Arizona and Israel. Everything from autonomous airplane companies to agriculture software startups have set up shop in Arizona to expand their development, technology, and workforce.

“Through his mission to Israel shortly after taking office and his numerous trips to Mexico, Governor Ducey has established strong relationships with these countries and set the foundation for success,” said Sandra Watson, Arizona Commerce Authority President & CEO. “Since, under his direction, the ACA has advanced those relationships and increased investment opportunities. The ACA thanks Governor Ducey and the Arizona legislature for their continued leadership in this area. Our new trade offices will further enhance cross-border collaboration with both countries and we look forward to opening them in the coming months.”

The Israeli trade office will be overseen by the Arizona Commerce Authority. The move will look to boost Arizona’s tech sector by tapping into the resources listed above as Arizona has gained major recognition internationally as a new Silicon Valley of sorts. A report by CompTIA earlier this year showed that Arizona’s technology jobs are more attractive because of a higher pay scale, with a median pay coming in at 94 percent higher than the national wage. The sector also pumps about $31 billion into the state’s economy. Mix that in with a lower cost of living and startups and companies are finding more reason to take advantage.

While the Israeli trade office will focus on boosting the state’s tech sector, the two trade offices in Mexico will look to keep the commodities market flowing. Items such as produce, auto parts, and manufacturing items have been juicing our economy for decades.

“The establishment of these additional trade offices in Mexico is an opportunity for Arizona to expand its presence in that country, and enhance connectivity with leaders of key industry sectors, such as aerospace and automotive, and provide more opportunities for Arizona companies to sell into those vital manufacturing supply chains,” said Connie Weber of the Arizona Commerce Authority.

Mexico is Arizona’s largest trading partner. According to Weber, bilateral trade “between the two countries totaled $16.69 billion and accounted for 37.2 percent of Arizona’s total trade in 2018.” The top exports to Mexico from Arizona include electrical and semiconductor goods, while top imports that will see more focus include vegetables, and electrical components and equipment.

“While the focus on ensuring bilateral trade in these areas remains strong,” said Weber. “The offices will identify and pursue new opportunities and industries once they are operational in the coming months.”

Nick Esquer

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