Trump comes between Arizona, Mexico business bond

As Arizona is trying to increase its trade relations with Mexico, President Donald Trump appears ready to put up at least a metaphorical wall, several Arizona business people and others said recently.

Jaime Chamberlain, president of J-C Distributing Inc. in Nogales, said Trump's recent moves worry him.  

“What bothers me is that we are really not understanding where we came from and respecting where we are going.” he said, adding that the North American Free Trade Agreement is also under fire. “It takes decades and decades to gain that trust, and it just bothers me the way things are said when we really should not be treating our southern and northern neighbor this way." 

The Arizona-Mexico Commission, a nonpartisan trade advocacy group, said Mexican tourists spend approximately $7 million in Arizona every year, and last year the state exported $9.2 billion in goods across the border.

Marco Garay, executive director of the commission, said Arizona and the Mexican state of Sonora have a great relationship that will not buckle to short-term changes, but he is reserving judgment on Trump until he sees what the administration does in the long term.

“I’ve seen a lot of policy shifts in my day … and what I will say is free trade works,” he said.

Although his administration has called it only one possibility, Trump has threatened a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports.

“Trump’s hateful rhetoric is perceived by many Mexicans, I believe, as a threat to a long-standing friendship,” Sergio Puig, director of the International Trade Law Program at the University of Arizona, said.

He said if things continue as they are, Mexico will look outside the United States for manufacturing agreements.

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