HERMOSILLO, SONORA – I’m not an economist, nor do I play one on TV. But I want to explain why I believe we should think of trade broadly as an economic winner, whether that means exports leaving the US or imports coming in.
The debate of late has been framed as a zero-sum game that measures exports minus imports. That misses the bigger picture.
Think of pants. The cotton – one of Arizona’s five Cs – could be grown in our state and then go to Mexico to be incorporated into blue jeans. I then buy the pants. In the balance of trade, Mexico may be ahead in total value. But so what? Who loses? As long as the jeans fit and I don’t cause a major fashion faux pas, we all win.
And how about tequila. I like the drink. A lot. You can only get this from a region in Mexico. Who loses if I mix the tequila with orange juice from Arizona-grown oranges for a tequila sunrise?
And while I’m enjoying the drink (responsibly, of course), nothing is better than chips and guacamole. The ingredients are likely from both sides of the border. The avocados
probably come from Mexico, the onions from the US, and the tomatoes are a jump ball.
The auto sector brings in our friends from Canada. The integration in this sector is deep. Lucid Motors is building a plant in Arizona in large part because of the supply chain in Sonora
and Arizona’s positive relationship with Mexico. For the broader industry, the integration has allowed the US, Canada and Mexico to compete against the rest of the world.
Who wins? Workers in all three countries. Consumers in all three countries. And all those who believe that the largest freedom-loving region of the world should be economically stronger than areas controlled by those with different values.
And when tour operators in Hermosillo sell packages for our friends in our neighbor state to purchase packages to see Diamondbacks, Suns or Cardinals games, who are the losers?
And who loses when Arizonans enjoy the beautiful Sea of Cortez?
Our collective goal should be to remove all barriers to the cross-border flow of goods and services and ensure American consumers the freedom to buy what they want, where they want to buy it from.
When our trade with Canada results in our friends north of the border having cash to buy Arizona homes, who loses? Arizona gets higher property values and great neighbors, as well as more foreign direct investment into Arizona
As Kirk Adams, chief of staff to Gov. Doug Ducey, said at a recent Arizona-Mexico Commission Interplenary meeting promoting the virtues of doing more with Sonora and Mexico, trade is an unstoppable train. Let’s speed it up and find more to do with our neighbors to the south and north.
Let’s start adding and stop subtracting.
Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry