The North American Center for Transborder Studies (NACTS) at Arizona State University, in partnership with the United States Department of Commerce, held the inaugural conference “Realizing the Economic Strength of Our 21st Century Border: Trade, Education and Jobs” on September 23-25, 2012 at the Fiesta Resort Conference Center in Tempe, Arizona. Throughout three days of discussion panels, private and public sector leaders from the U.S. and Mexico met to discuss current issues regarding the almost 2,000-mile-long border that unites both countries. Guest speakers such as Rep. Henry Cuellar, 28th District of Texas; Mayor Greg Stanton, City of Phoenix; Rep. Raúl Grijalva, 7th District of Arizona; and Gov. Susana Martínez, New Mexico highlighted the importance of the U.S. relationship with Mexico and called for cooperation from both countries to improve the border region and focus on the important issues such as trade, education and jobs.
Read the entire report here.
PRINCIPAL CONFERENCE TAKEAWAYS
1. We cannot afford to continue to be ignorant about our important commercial relationship with Mexico.
One of the most profound takeaways is that, as ASU President Michael Crow insisted upon, we remain “purposefully ignorant” about the enormously important commercial relationship the United States enjoys with Mexico. This ignorance is a critical weakness that prevents us from gaining even greater economic benefits from this relationship. With unemployment still at unacceptably high levels and the global economy experiencing ever-changing balances of power, we need to focus on what works.
2. U.S. global competitiveness depends on a strong Mexico.
The intense and highly collaborative nature of our bilateral commerce, including our highly integrated supply chains and joint production, means that what is good for Mexico is in large part good for the United States.
3. There is remarkable multi-partisan support for increasing bilateral trade.
Representatives from across the political spectrum in both nations insisted on the importance of binational trade, demonstrating that the possibility for agreement and moving forward on key issues related to trade already exists.
4. We have congested ports of entry that need major attention.
With waits for both commercial and passenger vehicles often reaching multiple hours, congested border crossings are a key impediment to trade and raise the cost of North American supply chains, which are critical for the competitiveness of U.S. and Mexican firms.
5. Local communities have a very important role in international trade (and some power as well).
International relations can often seem quite distant from the concerns and input of everyday people particularly people living in the U.S.-Mexico border region. Recognizing the often extraordinary leadership that local elected border officials exercise in what are essentially complex international/crossborder affairs, mayors in the border region tend to stand out for their strong efforts and perspectives. These
efforts can and do have a positive impact on bilateral relations.
6. You have to invest (in infrastructure) in order to profit from trade…and there are a number of investment options.
In an era of acute fiscal constraints, there is an emerging consensus on the importance of public-private partnerships as a way of identifying and tapping revenue streams available to finance and operate new modern ports of entry.
Read the entire report here.