Glenn Hamer returned Saturday from a visit to Mexico City that provided a large, bipartisan delegation of Arizona legislators and business community representatives an insider’s view of the Arizona-Mexico relationship and the gravity of the ongoing renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Here are his takeaways from an outstanding trip (with more to come):
Twenty-six Arizona legislators – possibly the largest state delegation of lawmakers ever to visit Mexico City at the same time – Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin and business leaders were promoting increased trade, and stronger educational and cultural ties between Arizona and our southern neighbor. Kudos to Rep. Tony Rivero and his co-chair Rep. Gabaldón for pulling this off.
At the same time, the president was visiting Phoenix and threatening (again) to terminate NAFTA. The contrast was stark.
A recurring theme of the trip was the importance of building on the prosperity of the North American economic bloc, and doing so in a way that’s a win-win-win for the United States, Mexico and Canada. Trade, despite the president’s rhetoric to the contrary, is not a zero-sum game. We can all grow and prosper. It’s about addition, not subtraction.
In addition to being our friend, Mexico is far and away Arizona’s largest trading partner. In fact, we trade more with Mexico than with our next four trading partners combined. About 40 percent of our exports go to Mexico. Approximately 100,000 Arizona jobs depend on trade with Mexico. Mexican visitors to Arizona spend over $7 million every day sleeping in our world-class hotels, eating in our restaurants, attending our sporting events, and shopping in our stores. Critical sectors of Arizona’s economy like tourism, mining, aerospace and semiconductors all enjoy a rich integrated relationship. Supply chains are developing in new areas, such as the modern auto industry. And a positive relationship with Mexico is important for Arizona to navigate its future water needs.
While the entire US economy generally would suffer were NAFTA to be dismantled – 14 million jobs, after all are tied to trade with Mexico and Canada – Arizona, as a border state, would get hit hard. The integration and increased trading volumes that have occurred in the past nearly 25 years are spectacular.