As the go-to resource for Arizona-Mexico related information, the Arizona-Mexico Commission has been participating in various events around the state providing communities with information regarding cross-border trade and its importance to the region. On August 29th, Margie Emmermann, the AMC’s Executive Director, took part on a panel with other local, state, and federal officials to discuss this very issue. The forum, “Mexico- Arizona’s #1 Trading Partner,” was held during the annual League of Cities and Towns conference in Phoenix and was attended by over 200 people. Conference attendees gathered to hear the panel talk about key topics relating to the bilateral trade relationship and the economic opportunities for Arizona.
The panelists included Walter Bastian from the US Department of Commerce, Margie Emmermann from the Arizona-Mexico Commission, John Halikowski from the Arizona Department of Transportation, Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix, and Mayor Arturo Garino of Nogales.
Walter Bastian began the discussion by stating that Mexico is indeed Arizona’s top trading partner and the United States’ third largest where in 2011, $460.6 billion worth of goods were traded between the two countries. Although Mexico ranks first in trade with Arizona, Mr. Bastian stated that “there is still money being left on the table” when it comes to trade between the two regions and that Arizona must invest in the infrastructure necessary to support and improve that trade relationship.
Margie Emmermann continued the conversation by stating that Arizona manages $26 billion in trade flowing through its ports of entry and summarized key projects that the AMC has accomplished, or is currently working on, to support the Arizona-Mexico relationship. Through the AMC’s four pillars of Advocacy, Trade, Networking, and Information, the AMC’s main focus is to enhance Arizona’s global competiveness and increase job creation. This focus is evident in projects like Vision 2015, the Border Communities Economic Development Roadmap project, and its involvement in organizations and events such as the Border Liaison Mechanism meetings and the AMC’s annual plenary sessions.
The City of Nogales, Arizona is virtually ground-zero for trade moving across the border. Mayor Garino said that he once compared Nogales to a wheel, with Nogales being a hub and cities around Arizona being the spokes; however, he now thinks of the state of Arizona as the hub and the spokes reaching across the nation or even further. Director Halikowski echoed the Mayor’s sentiment about Arizona being the hub as he spoke of the need for adequate infrastructure in our state to be able to compete against others, particularly Texas. Director Halikowski stated that ADOT is currently working on a Border Master Plan that will continue to look at the current and future needs of transportation infrastructure so that Arizona can continue to advance its trade relationship not only with Mexico, but with states to the north of Arizona as a trade corridor is developed.
The speaker panel was concluded by Mayor Greg Stanton giving the audience an overview of his trade mission to Hermosillo and Mexico City earlier in the month. Mayor Stanton expressed that as Mexico continues to build on its economy, Arizona must be well-positioned to take advantage of every opportunity made available to it.