For 60 years the Arizona- Mexico Commission (AMC) has served to promote a strong and cooperative relationship between Arizona and Mexico.
The organization has been a constant in Arizona since 1959 when Governor Paul J. Fannin and Sonora Governor Álvaro Obregón saw the importance of fostering cross-border cooperation and common ground. Together they launched what began as the Arizona-Mexico West Coast Trade Commission and its sister organization in Sonora, the Comité de Promoción Económica y Social de Sonora-Arizona.
In 1972, Arizona Governor Jack Williams expanded and elevated the newly renamed Arizona-Mexico Commission’s activities and appointed a select group of prominent business and community leaders to serve on its board of directors. Today, binational committees chaired by leaders in the public and private sector drive the work of the AMC to improve the economic prosperity and quality of life for all throughout the region.
The AMC has expanded its scope to a broad array of shared issues, including trade, infrastructure, energy, and tourism, becoming stronger under this structure even as state leadership changed hands under multiple Arizona and Sonora governors.
Throughout its 60-year history, the AMC’s contributions are expansive and lasting, focusing on advocacy for policies that uplift the joint region. Most recently, the Commission has played an essential role in advocating for the ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Through its work, the AMC is keenly aware of the deep impact trade between the U.S. and Mexico has on furthering economic prosperity in the region, and regularly discusses the importance of enhancing the two economies. A report released earlier this year by the AMC and the Arizona Chamber Foundation found that in 2018 Arizona’s two-way trade with Mexico equaled $16.6 billion – nearly $7.6 billion in exports and $9 billion in imports.
Keeping trade, commerce, and tourism flowing is, of course, key. The organization is doing its part to reduce border wait times through championing innovative programs like Unified Cargo Processing, a joint U.S.-Mexico inspection program piloted at the Nogales Port of Entry.
The AMC also works to facilitate joint promotion of the region as a tourist destination, and supports binational university partnerships for Arizona’s universities through international degree programs and classes, student exchanges, and collaborative research initiatives. To support regional safety and strong infrastructure, the AMC has facilitated unique cross-border partnerships such as the Lukeville-Puerto Peñasco Safety Corridor and the commercial driver-training program that make our infrastructure safer and more efficient.
As chair of the AMC, Gov. Ducey knows the importance of keeping Arizona’s relationship with Mexico strong. Under his leadership, the AMC has never been more vibrant or effective. By continuing an open dialogue on common issues of importance, the two states have been able to advocate effectively on behalf of the region even as international tensions over border issues rose and fell over the years.
As we move into an increasingly interconnected world, the role of the AMC in strengthening Arizona’s ties with Mexico, Arizona’s number one trading partner, will become even more important. International business and global trade are on the rise, and increasingly our key partners are those across our own borders. The AMC has set the standard as to how to develop and maintain a lasting neighborly relationship built on trust and mutual understanding.
The organization’s 60-year legacy of cross-border collaboration is one to celebrate. As permanent neighbors looking to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship, Arizona and Mexico are incredibly fortunate to have organizations like the AMC and its counterpart in Sonora working as neighbors for good.
Arizona Governor Paul Fannin put it best when he said, “God made us neighbors, let us be good neighbors.” Today the AMC keeps Gov. Fannin’s words close as it works in collaboration for the mutual prosperity of Arizona and Mexico.
Jessica Pacheco is vice president of state and local affairs for Arizona Public Service. Glenn Hamer is president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Photo courtesy of the Arizona Department of Transportation.