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Arizona-Mexico Commission: 60 years of success and friendship

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Sixty years ago, Arizona Gov. Paul Fannin looked south across the border to Mexico and famously said, “God made us neighbors; let us be good neighbors.” It was then that the stage was set for the Arizona-Mexico Commission, an international entity that works to foster economic partnerships and an enduring friendship, which has only grown stronger through the challenges of the intervening decades.

Today, Arizona is “Open for Business,” as Gov. Doug Ducey often asserts in word and deed. Among our most important business partners is Mexico — perhaps the most important. Our southern border offers some of the most important ports of entry into the United States, particularly the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, where State Route 189 connects directly with Mexican Federal Highway 15 and opens the rest of North America to trade with Mexico.

Jessica Pacheco

Jessica Pacheco

And while every day we face the challenges of border security, humanitarian issues and emerging threats to free trade,  our cooperative relationship with Mexico has resulted in thousands of new jobs, immense cultural exchange and a border that functions efficiently for the benefit of both Arizona and Mexico.

The Arizona-Mexico Commission is built upon a three-pronged approach — infrastructure, innovation and relationships — to make Governor Fannin’s vision a reality. Today, Governor Ducey shares that vision and has expanded it.

Infrastructure

Continued investment in Arizona’s ports of entry is critical to our state’s global competitiveness. We need all of Arizona’s ports operating at their most effective capacity. Governor Ducey has proposed an investment of $700,000 in this year’s budget to build needed cold storage inspection facilities, meaning more fresh produce from Mexico will make it to dinner tables around the country.

Last year, Governor Ducey announced $134 million in improvements to SR189, the largest state investment in rural infrastructure in 10 years, allowing commercial products to move more safely and efficiently on their way to consumers.

Engagement with our congressional delegation is key in securing additional funding to continue improving our ports of entry as we work together to ensure our state continues to lead in North American trade.

Innovation

Borders that operate at the speed of business are critical to the north-south flow of goods and services through Arizona. In the past five years, we have seen wait times at Arizona’s ports of entry go from hours to minutes. Programs, such as Unified Cargo Processing and Arizona’s Border Liaison Unit, are making our ports more efficient, more secure, and a living example of a national best practice.

It is essential that we draw global business to Arizona to grow our economy. Our competitive business environment coupled with our proximity to Mexico offers something unique to investors looking to do business on both sides of the border.  The Lucid Motors project in Casa Grande perfectly illustrates this competitive advantage.

Relationships

Relationships matter, and, in Arizona, we know how to make new connections and enhance existing ones. Governor Ducey is a champion for our state, building strong and thriving relationships in Sonora and throughout Mexico.

When the governor traveled to Mexico City for the inauguration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, he met with top level officials, including Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard and Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Martha Bárcena. These are more than social visits or exercises in protocol. Arizona is positioned to lead with Mexico because of Governor Ducey’s effective diplomacy.

Arizona has the model for cross-border relationships. The Arizona-Mexico Commission has built a proven legacy of bringing the right people together to help Arizona lead when it comes to building strong cross-border ties, supporting the global competitiveness of our region.

When nearly 100,000 Arizona jobs are supported by trade with Mexico, Arizona’s global competitiveness must be a priority. It is critical that we continue to advocate for needed investment in our ports of entry and make sure Arizona is at the center of investment in North America.

The introduction of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in 2018 offers Arizona new opportunities to lead in North American trade. With the expected ratification of the agreement this year, Arizona will be positioned to grow existing industries and advance new ones. The economic future of our young border state will turn on how well we succeed.

— Jessica Pacheco is board president of the  Arizona-Mexico Commission.

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