Mexico City Trade Mission

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A half-dozen Arizona lawmakers went to Mexico City recently on mission to establish a permanent Arizona presence in that city and to seek out partnerships in the business and political worlds. House Speaker Andy Tobin led the mission, and will talk about trip.

Ted Simons: A half dozen Arizona lawmakers from the state's House of Representatives recently traveled to Mexico City in an effort to bolster Arizona's brand and establish a permanent presence in Mexico's capitol. House Speaker Andy Tobin led the delegation and joins us this evening. House delegation to Mexico City, why?

Andy Tobin: Well, we know how bad things were for the last several years. We've been passing economic development plans to say, hey, let's make ourselves more competitive. We've done that year after year. We've gone to the Phoenix economic council, constantly going to the ACA, what can we do to make Arizona more competitive. How about our neighbors to the South? It's kind of a big country down there. We decided to take what we did and go down there and do some comparisons with us, versus California, versus Texas, and welcome them to our state.

Ted Simons: Talking to political leaders, business leaders?

Andy Tobin: e were welcome on the Senate floor, the House floor, they have over 400 delegates there. We were welcomed by the Northern American directors, which was huge. We were all welcomed by Mexico City. Well received and all topics were on the table?

Ted Simons: I want to get to one of those topics in a second. The idea is to bolster Arizona's brand and image. What is Arizona's brand and image, especially in Mexico?

Andy Tobin: I think it is one- I call this the beginning of this 100 years of the Americas belongs to the United States and Mexico, if we play well together. They have huge opportunities that they would like to expand and we're the same way. We have the switchback, we're looking at creating a huge rail yard down there to get product in and out quicker. The ports on the Pacific coast, they are asking questions about our mining, coal opportunities to send that to them. We're all ears. We already do so much trade with Mexico, and a lot of it is agriculture, guaranteed. But at the end of the day, they can offer Arizona some greater opportunity. We felt the time had come to show the place Arizona can be.

Ted Simons: Talk about how Arizona is viewed by Mexican leaders. Let's get to 1040, a major factor here. How much, how often and how soon was that brought up in Mexico City?

Andy Tobin: We sat in Senate hearing rooms with senators, five at a time. It was a great respect they paid to us and they talked about 1070. Many businesses spoke about the two arms of this immigration conversation. One talked about the E-Verify system, very onerous to businesses; I'm a business guy, it was a hard choice for me. It was like hey, make sure these folks are getting checked. And they are remembering that. We all know that happened before Governor Brewer got on board, that was Governor Napolitano's piece. In 1070, they have this sub-process and we could have handled the press better, and they will share with you that there are those who believe we don't like Mexico. I went down there to tell them that we do, and they have a lot of friends here.

Ted Simons: How do you tell them do you like Mexico and they do have a lot of friends here when something like SB 1070 seems to- and I know you would disagree with this- seems to target folks who come up through that particular country?

Andy Tobin: Great question. First you make no excuses. You tell them exactly why you did what you did. We are separate nations, we are separate states, we have what we believe are the right reasons for doing what we did. We tried to stay focused on our economies and what we shared. What they shared with us most about the border was it's economic security, too. How can we continued to move our product, how can we move our product here. I spoke about drug trafficking and smuggling, they were all on the same page. Talking about legislation that we had passed with other states I had visited on the American side, maybe there are some solutions we can work on. It was a wonderful exchange, we're not always going to agree on everything. We agree a lot more with Mexico than folks in the Middle East right now.

Ted Simons: Did you think you got a polite nod of the head. Because you supported SB 1070 I'm sure they probably asked how did you handle it? Did you get a polite smile or do you think they really understand the issue and how it was handled?

Andy Tobin: I'm glad you asked that. None of the conversations we had with them or amongst our own members did we try to script. I didn't go to any members, Republican or Democrat, and say please don't discuss this. I always felt that if you want to have a real trade partner, you want to have honest conversation. I said, so tell them how you feel.

You well know that half of our delegation didn't vote, didn't support 1070. I think that's a diversity in our legislative and political process and our people supported that. And I shared that with them. There are things that Mexico does that probably bother some of us. I shared with them, listen, we should be focusing on the things that can make us part of the great century for the Americas and that's why we stayed there.

Ted Simons: Last question. The trip originally raised some eyebrows because the Governor wasn't going, the commerce authority wasn't involved. Some thought this was perhaps you kind of leading down there saying, maybe I need to go down there to help and maybe other names wouldn't have much help. Why a house delegation?

Andy Tobin: Actually none of that at all. If you go back and look at the legislation passed over the last several years, they all have House numbers on them. We have been focused from Jim Wires days, Kirk Adams especially. I want to remember my last years focused on what brings jobs here. The ACA, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, many were part of the process from the beginning. We have been working on it for months. The chamber of commerce came, the dairymen came, we felt we had a good start, the chairman of transportation, the chairman of commerce. We're going to go back again he encourage them to come here. We will talk higher education and talk energy policy. My view is we need to keep an ongoing dialogue, a regular process of us going down there visiting and them coming here. Senate is welcome ot join. There's no anti who's showing up and who isn't. Granted, I have been working on this for 6 or 7 months I said it's time this summer to go.

Ted Simons: That is it for now, I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us, you have a great evening.

Andy Tobin:House Speaker, Arizona;

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