Arizona is boosting trade between Tucson and Mexico. Learn how to help the two neighbors bridge the gap.
Ted Simons: Mexico has the the largest economy in the world and is expected to continue to grow over the coming decades. Tucson is working to strengthen business relationships with Sonora. Fernanda Echavarri has the story.
Fernanda Echavarri: Government and business leaders in Mexico and the U.S. say both countries benefit from thinking about Arizona and Sonora as one economic region. One of those government officials is Ramone Guzman Munoz, the mayor of Sonora. [in Spanish]
Fernanda Echavarri: Last year 9.5 million people crossed into the United States at ports of entry in Arizona. Guzman Munoz says Americans and Mexicans must learn to do business with each other. They talked about immigration, highways, transportation, and how both states can learn to conduct cross-border business more successfully. Juan Padres focuses on helping both countries understand each other.
Juan Padres: I grew up on the border so I understand both cultures very, very well. I know how to do business in Mexico and I know how to do business in the U.S. Part of my job is to bridge that gap.
Fernanda Echavarri: He does that across many industries in Sonora.
Juan Padres: There's a hodgepodge of what we're seeing, everything from a very, very small business owner who has very limited production that wants to enter the U.S. market with huge manufacturing. We go to both sides of the scale and everything in between.
Fernanda Echavarri: The number of crossings is up to about 312,000, a year. That means wear and tear on the roads in both countries. Man-hours to regulate the flow and workers to load and unload the cargo. Sonora's economy has grown by about 6%, the largest growth in the aerospace, mining and automotive industries. Many in southern Arizona's business community wants Tucson to be the logistics Hub for cross-border commerce and trade.
Mike Valencia: Certainly we're in the growing stages right now, there's a lot of infrastructure that needs to be put in place. We are catching up. This is something probably Tucson should have done , years ago just because of our strategic location. Once we start to put all of those assets in place and start to build all that infrastructure, and we start announcing to the world really, everybody outside of Tucson, that we're open for business, Tucson can take advantage of it tremendously.
Fernanda Echavarri: He says Tucson's future is in trade and logistics.
Mike Valencia: People last or some people might disagree when I say this could be another little Long Beach. When you start to put all these assets together of a seaport just four hours away, an east-west link on the rail, very good lines of communication on I-8, I-10, and three major airports that could potentially interlink with all of these other assets.
Fernanda Echavarri: Logistics are a part of doing business with other countries as are cultural matters. There are other unspoken rules that vary between two cultures.
Juan Padres: The biggest challenge so far is the cultural differences. You have a lot of Mexican business owners who don't speak English and don't really understand our laws and it's intimidating to go from one country to another, speak a different language, different way of doing business, different laws, different accounting rules. It's intimidating.
Fernanda Echavarri: Business owners in the U.S. experience similar intimidation.
Juan Padres: You know, there's a lot of companies with a lot of interest in going to Mexico. They understand there's a huge opportunity and opportunity to do business west of the Cascades we invite them, let's go do down to check out a few clients, possible familiarities -- Well, again, it's a different language, different culture, certain perceptions on both sides of the border whether it's crime in Mexico or SB in Arizona.
Fernanda Echavarri: Tucson Mayor Johnathan Rothschild says Arizona has felt the effects of such legislation. He has traveled to Mexico since he took office and says the state's economy could benefit from an increase in trade between the two countries. He says a good start is bringing back international flights to the Tucson International Airport.
Johnathan Rothschild: We hope and believe that by late fall we will have a direct flight, nonstop flight from Tuscon to Armacio. That's critical, once you go there, it's a hub for the rest of Mexico. You can go to anywhere from Mexico from there. That is important to us.
Fernanda Echavarri: In 2013, trade between Arizona and Mexico totaled 14$ billion split evenly between imports and exports. Arizona could improve it's trade rankings with Mexico.
Johnathan Rothschild: When you break it down by state, California is number one, Texas is number two, and that makes some sense because California, you're trading into the Pacific Rim and Texas, you're trading into the Midwest and the eastern part of the United States. Right now Illinois and Michigan are ahead of us, and that's just something that we can improve on and correct, and use as basis for building our own local economy.
Ted Simons: Thursday on "Arizona Horizon" we will meet a local photographer who will explain how he creates unique stereographic images of the state. That's Thursday evening at and right here on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.