Arizona committed to upping trade with Mexico

Arizona is working to ensure the state is Mexico’s preferred business partner, according to the Arizona-Mexico Commission (AMC) , the state commission charged with forging trade ties along the border.

The partnership is critical to Arizona’s economy, the commission said following the release of figures that show the state exported $9.1 billion worth of goods to the country in 2015.

Gov. Doug Ducey, local mayors, congressional representatives and business and nonprofit leaders are showing tremendous enthusiasm for developing links with the Sonara region and Mexico in general, AMC Communications Drector Ryth Soberanes told Arizona Business Daily.

“Indeed, this sort of visionary leadership makes a difference in our effort to build bridges with Mexico to improve the quality of life for all Arizonans.” Soberanes said in an email.

Recently released figures show an increase in 2015 of nearly 8,000 trucks, 400,000 more passenger vehicles and 900,000 more people entering the U.S. through Arizona’s international ports of entry. These are numbers critical to this state’s economy, Soberanes said. 

In addition, $30 billion in imports and exports pass through Arizona’s ports during the year, including $9.1 billion in Arizona exports to Mexico. Some 100,000 Arizona jobs are supported by trade with Mexico, while $7.8 million is spent daily by those visiting Arizona from Mexico.

”The impact of our ports of entry is far reaching,” Ducey said. “The increase in cross-border traffic is another example of Arizona’s flourishing business climate and growing opportunities for economic development.”

Arizona's trade with Mexico remains small in comparison to Texas and California, but Soberanes said the state’s economy “cannot compare to the sheer size of Texas'.”

“Yet we are still very competitive, and for over 50 years, Arizona has, through the one-of-a-kind Arizona-Mexico Commission, promoted Arizona-Mexico relations, particularly with our southern neighbor, Sonora,” Soberanes said. “Still, there are many opportunities left for our businesses, students, etc. to seize, and we are working diligently to ensure Arizona is Mexico's preferred business partner.”

Officials have upped the number of cross border meetings, including a recent Arizona Town Hall gathering that brought together leaders from the political, business and non-government worlds.

“Gov. (Ducey) has made great effort to form close ties with his Sonoran counterpart, Gov. Claudia Pavlovich,” Soberane said. “They have meet over half a dozen times since she came to office less than a year ago, and they will convene again in June at the AMC 2016 Summit and Plenary session.”

During the session, planned for June 23-24 in Scottsdale, Ducey and Pavlovich are expected to discuss tactical initiatives for building business opportunities and cooperation in an array of issues, including health.

U.S. Department of Transportation figures for northbound traffic at Arizona ports of entry showed commercial trucks up 2.1 percent (388,657 total), passenger vehicles up 4.5 percent (8.9 million total) and people visiting Arizona up 4.1 percent (23.8 million total).

“This amount of cross-border traffic and the continual upward trend in volume means we must continue to make smart investments at the border and ensure that our ports of entry have the necessary staffing and resources to operate effectively, efficiently and safely,” John Halikowski, director of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), said following the release of the figures. “ADOT is working to improve transportation infrastructure at the border, along with traffic flows, with projects slated for state Route 189 and Interstate 19, and ongoing efforts to study how to build Interstate 11 from Nogales to the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge.”

David Farca, president of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, noted that the figures don’t reflect the fact that ports handle southbound traffic as well.

“In reality, our ports of entry processed close to 800,000 trucks, 17 million cars, 48 million people and 1,600 trains,” Farca said.

“A vibrant business relationship with Mexico is key to the growth of Arizona’s economy,” Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, said. 

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