Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer takes a look at his recent trip to Hermosillo, Sonora as part of a trade delegation led by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.
Pacific Paper is a successful Mexican small business based in Sonora that manufacturers paper products.
Included in its line of products is toilet paper, which you can see me holding in this picture.
The company kindly provided me a roll during a panel I was on that I could use as a prop to illustrate how integrated the American and Mexican economies have become. (As a note, you will get strange looks if you walk through a conference hall with hundreds of people with a giant roll of TP. The odd looks ended my plan of triumphantly holding up the roll during my session and proclaiming, “This is NAFTA!” Maybe next time.)
Where did the paper ship from that is used in the roll I am holding?
The Phoenix delegation next visited Lariv Desarrollos, a Sonora business specializing in steel frame construction.
Where did the steel ship from?
I had the privilege of serving on a panel for Coparmex – a leading chamber in Mexico – moderated by Phoenix’s economic development chief Chris Mackay, and featuring my colleagues Todd Sanders, the president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and Steve Zylstra, who heads the Arizona Technology Council.
We all emphasized our organizations’ commitment to trade and the red line that all changes to NAFTA must expand opportunities, modernize the agreement, and lower barriers. We all expressed support for expanding the partnership between Arizona and Sonora.
I personally discussed the possibility of expanding film collaboration between the two states. We have every climate imaginable in our shared region, Arizona has a new film office, and thanks to companies like Sneaky Big Studios, Hollywood-quality facilities.
We also emphasized the importance of the trilateral benefits of NAFTA. Canada is a great partner, a major source of foreign direct investment and, for certain industries like auto manufacturing, it’s vital we work together as a three-nation team so that our region can compete against the rest of the globe.
Working backwards, the trip began with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton officially opening the city’s trade and business office in Hermosillo. The office is welcoming, modern, and well located. There is a heavy emphasis on tourism and sports with paraphernalia and pictures from the Cardinals, Suns, Diamondbacks, and Coyotes. The office is also used as the spot to educate companies on the benefits of locating in the Greater Phoenix region. In fact, at the opening it was announced that Etiquetas e Impresiones de Mexico SA DE CV, an Hermosillo-based custom label manufacturing company, will be opening an office in Phoenix. It was a perfect weather night with great interactions between Arizona and Sonoran business leaders.
Props to the City of Phoenix for, as far as we can tell, being the only city in the United States with two international trade offices (the other being in Mexico City). The team at Molera Alvarez does an outstanding job of running these efforts.
I’ll conclude with this observation: Arizona is now seen as the state with one of – if not the – most positive relationship with Mexico. It is deep.
Mayor Stanton and his counterpart in Hermosillo, Mayor Manuel Ignacio Acosta Gutiérrez, have a close relationship. Our governor, Doug Ducey and his counterpart in Sonora, Claudia Pavlovich, have a model relationship.
While we were in Mexico, Ariz. Sen. Jeff Flake, spoke of the importance of the relationship during a Senate Committee hearing. Our senior senator, John McCain – the man I call the most consequential legislator on Planet Earth – is an aggressive champion not just of NAFTA, but other trade agreements as a critical component of our national security strategy.
And our institutions like the Arizona Mexico Commission and its Sonoran counterpart are working extremely well together to elevate the entire relationship across many sectors, from the arts and culture, to transportation, to health care, and much more.