What does Linda Valdez get wrong about Gov. Ducey’s engagement with Mexico? EVERYTHING!


 Glenn Hamer 
 January 7, 2018

 

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday announced the launch of an international air logistics center that will speed the processing of cargo to and from Mexico and Latin America and that will result in the creation of 17,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Later that day, Arizona Republic columnist Linda Valdez accused him of moving “with the speed of a glacier” to “maximize Arizona’s economic relationship with Mexico.”

The economic viability of newspapers has been dramatically impacted in the age of the Internet. But the silliness cited above is just as damaging. The next time a reporter bemoans the decline of the newspaper industry, remind them of Valdez’s column, which would cause any reader to question why they would pay for a level of analysis on par with The Onion.

I will acknowledge that I’m taking issue with the opinion page. I don’t expect to always agree with what’s featured there. I value a wide diversity of opinions that inform rather than just affirm. But the oft-quoted Daniel Moynihan adage about being entitled to one’s own opinions but not to one’s own facts applies here.

The SkyBridge project at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport will be the first ever international air hub where U.S. and Mexican customs personnel will work side by side to clear cargo. Air cargo flights out of the airport are expected to increase by 2,000 per year. E-commerce customers in Mexico can receive their shipments faster than ever, as SkyBridge’s inspection protocols will eliminate duplicative processing in Mexico.

The concept of joint inspections, known as Unified Cargo Processing, was first launched in Arizona at the Mariposa land port of entry in Nogales. Inspection times there have been reduced dramatically thanks to the historic binational cooperation. In fact, Gov. Ducey hailed UCP when he spoke at a dedication ceremony for the program in Nogales back in December 2016.

But UCP is just one element of the Arizona-Mexico relationship. The governor has established the model binational relationship with his counterpart, Sonoran Gov. Claudia Pavlovich. Each has traveled to the other’s state on numerous occasions for high-level meetings. This isn’t a photo-op relationship; it’s a relationship that is resulting in jobs on both sides of the border.

When Lucid Motors announced its plans to establish a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Pinal County that will bring over 2,000 jobs to the area, the company cited its confidence in the Arizona-Sonoran relationship and the two states’ modern automotive supply chain as a major reason for the planned $700 million capital investment. When Gov. Duceyannounced the Lucid deal, Gov. Pavlovich was standing next to him.

No Arizona governor had led a trade mission to Mexico City in nearly a decade until Gov. Ducey led one in his first six months as governor. The Arizona-Mexico Commission, whether meeting in Sonora or in Arizona, has taken on a new level importance, welcoming foreign ministers and other cabinet officials, ambassadors, and Fortune 500 executives. The AMC’s executive director and a senior adviser to the governor, Juan Ciscomani, was named by The Republic itself as one of 12 Arizonans to watch in 2018. The entire Ducey administration is engaged in cross-border issues, whether it’s promoting our shared public safety, tourism, economic development, or water security, which in 2017 resulted in a major update to the international treaty with Mexico on Colorado River usage.

But you wouldn’t know that if you’re a Republic or azcentral.com reader. There was no story from the news side of the newspaper following the governor’s SkyBridge announcement, either online or in the following day’s print edition; no reporting of the governor touting his strong support for the North American Free Trade Agreement, another subject about which Valdez charges the governor as being inattentive. The announcement and the governor’s comments on NAFTA were made before 1,200 businesspeople and elected officials and was covered by several other television, radio, and print outlets. It wasn’t a secret. I was interviewed by phone by a reporter based in Mexico City about the announcement, but somehow it missed the crack team at The Republic.

Gov. Ducey’s work to reestablish, reframe, and reboot Arizona’s ties with Mexico has been transformational. Anyone who questions the governor’s commitment to our most strategically important relationship either isn’t paying attention or is willfully ignorant. 

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry