North American Trade

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The Arizona State University School of Public Affairs is holding its annual border trade conference with universities from Canada and Mexico March 31. The conference title is “Unlocking North American Competitiveness” and will focus on expanding trade, deregulation, energy markets and transportation. Sapna Gupta, the organizer of the conference, will tell us more.

Ted Simons: ASU School of Public Affairs is holding its annual Border Trade Conference with Universities from Canada and Mexico later this week. It's called "Unlocking North American Competitiveness." And here with more is the organizer of the conference, Sapna Gupta. Good to see you.

Sapna Gupta: Good to be here.

Ted Simons: Thanks for being here. "Unlocking North American Competitiveness," what does that mean?

Sapna Gupta: That's a very good question. I'll put some of it in context. Canada and Mexico are Arizona's most important trading partners. They are the U.S.' most important trading partners. However this, trade, the flow of goods and ideas could be smoother, meaning in the case of Arizona, there are long lines at the border. So we have miles of trucks waiting to enter the U.S., who can't get through, that take hours to get through that adds cost to the products coming in.

Ted Simons: That gets to the point of strengthening regional relations, I would imagine. As far as strengthening regional competitiveness, what's involved there?

Sapna Gupta: Several things are involved. If we make and help make the trade of goods smoother, for example reducing the delays at the border f for example we make it easier for a company, whether the company's European or Brazilian or from China, looking to set up operations in the U.S. or in Mexico or Canada, for the streamlining of operations, that would smooth the flow of business and improve attraction to our region from Mexico or Canada. So if things -- the trade flows are better in Canada, that benefits the U.S. Same thing with Mexico.

Ted Simons: We'll focus on three aspects in particular. Let's start with the first one, the energy sector. How do you see that playing, the dynamics there?

Sapna Gupta: It's really important, energy whether gas or oil is one of the largest exports from Canada to the U.S. The U.S. itself as we all know is the energy bloom that's happening in the shale oil gas fields is a huge premiers of energy. And Mexico just last year liberalized its energy sector which was previously closed. How do we make ore how do we address the energy structure mix can companies looking to sell to the U.S. or U.S. companies looking to sell to Mexico, it has a huge impact on consumers. That means if energy costs are lower manufacturing is cheaper. Goods for Mexican and American consumers and Canadian consumers are cheaper.

Ted Simons: The transportation infrastructure, you mentioned that earlier but obviously that's huge.

Sapna Gupta: That's really huge as you said. Transportation infrastructure is the bedrock of economic development; it is the foundation for trade. Much of the trade that happens in North America, whether it's good coming in from Mexico to the U.S. or goods export from the U.S. and Mexico and going to Canada and vice versa, are done overland. That means by a truck and some by rail. The more we can reduce the flows at the border, the cheaper it is. The more competitive we are for companies manufacturing those goods.

Ted Simons: The last here, supply chain security. What does that mean?

Sapna Gupta: How do we make sure that the supply of products that go towards these companies? So for example, let's say that I'm an aerospace company in Mexico located in Sonora, just south of the border. The parts that go into manufacturing a turbine can come from Canada can come from companies in Arizona. However, the faster these products make it across the border and back to the U.S., the better the opera rations for those companies are. The safer we can make this process, the better it is for those companies and for who's going to be using those parts. All in all, it's how do we make sure that operations and trade within the countries can be made smoother and simpler.

Ted Simons: Indeed, very interesting stuff here. There's some post industry academia, and government all attending the symposium?

Sapna Gupta: Yes. I think it's important that our partners, University of Calgary, and here at Arizona State University, and in Mexico University's School of Global Affairs, together we organized this event. It was truly a joint effort. We wanted to make sure it's not just an academic event. Academics are great, I'm part of ASU. But we want to make sure the prosecute aspect of businesses and policy are included. That's how you make solutions to the North America trade areas. That's how you come up with solutions that can be implemented properly. It's beyond the theoretical, how do we make it work? We will have working groups after the plenaries. People will make recommendations and these will be relayed to North American leaders in June or July. The timing of this conference is just great.

Ted Simons: Very encouraging. Good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

Sapna Gupta: Thank you for having me.

Video: We want to hear from you. Submit your questions, comments and concerns via email at [email protected].

Sapna Gupta: Organizer of Annual Border Trade Conference

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