Last week, I spoke at the U.S Mexico Border Summit hosted by the Borderplex Alliance in El Paso. On the same panel were Texas and New Mexican business leaders and the Mexican General Consul of El Paso. We discussed the opportunities and challenges in the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the impact on our business communities. Interestingly, the discussion occurred on the first day of the trilateral negotiations.
As the President of the largest Latino business organization in Arizona, I stressed that $16.8 billion dollars of trade between Arizona and Mexico was at risk. I also reminded the crowd of almost 300 people that Mexico is Arizona’s number one trading partner. I provided statistics about trade that existed before NAFTA to the tune of $80 billion dollars a year as well as the incredible 600% increase between the U.S and Mexico to $500 billion dollars a year since implementation.
We addressed key industries as well as the campaigns designed to gather information for our trade representatives on both sides of the border. We were asked by the crowd of primarily business leaders about changes we would like to see in a NAFTA 2.0. Each of our panelists expressed concern about business uncertainty that could be created during the negotiation phase, but agreed that the 24 year old trade agreement could be improved.
During my turn to speak, I reviewed the NAFTA improvements that were detailed by the Arizona District Export Council in which I am a member. They included:
Of course, the priority for the panel as well as the businesses that we represent is to avoid disruptions to current businesses transactions and the millions of jobs that they support. These are important conversations for the business communities in Canada, Mexico and the U.S to engage in to ensure a 2.0 version improves trade conditions and does not hinder them. The economies of our nations – and especially our border states – depend on it.
Lea Marquez Peterson is the President/CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber which is the largest Latino business organization in Arizona and one of the larger Hispanic Chambers in the country. Learn more at www.TucsonHispanicChamber.org.
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