Fifteen elected officials, including 11 mayors from Arizona, traveled to Mexico last week to join other elected and high-ranking government officials, business leaders, and economic development experts from both sides of the border in a binational economic forum in Nogales, Sonora. Peoria Vice Mayor, Tony Rivero was among those attending the forum, which focused on developing strategies for improving trade between the two states.
“I have been very focused on the opportunity of building a stronger relationship between our regions, “ said Rivero. “It makes not only good business sense for the state, but Peoria, too.”
While developing strategies for regional economic development was the focus of the forum, MAG Chair and Avondale Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers believes the trip represented a tipping point in strengthening relationships between the two countries.
“The welcome we received from Sonora Mayor Ramón Guzmán Muñoz and the rest of the Mexican delegation was phenomenal,” said Mayor Rogers, who also provided welcoming remarks at the forum. “The trip was a major news story in Sonora, with one newspaper calling it ‘historic and a great success.’ They were extremely impressed by the show of support demonstrated by the attendance of so many elected officials, which they accurately perceived as our legitimate interest in developing better trade relations with Mexico.”
Among those participating in the trip: Avondale Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers; Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck; Buckeye Vice Mayor Brian McAchran; Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers; Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord; Litchfield Park Mayor Thomas Schoaf; Nogales, Arizona Mayor Arturo Garino; Nogales, Sonora Mayor Ramón Guzmán Muñoz; Peoria Vice Mayor Tony Rivero; Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton; San Luis Councilmember Maria Ramos; Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane; Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott; Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild; and Youngtown Mayor Michael LeVault.
“This trip provided an important opportunity to learn more about the opportunities for trade between our two states,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who was a key speaker at the event. “Strengthening ties to Mexico requires strengthening government-to-government and business-to-business relationships across the border. We believe this meeting moved us closer to that goal.”
During the visit, elected officials were given a tour of the Continental maquiladora manufacturing plant. Continental is headquartered in Hanover, Germany and reports annual sales of $30.5 billion. It has 163,788 employees in 46 countries worldwide, including 1,812 employees in Nogales. The Nogales plant manufactures sophisticated electronic modules, security systems, infotainment, and communication units for a number of American and foreign automobiles, including Chrysler, GM, Ford, Nissan, Kia, Mercedes Benz, Hyundai, and BMW. For example, Americans who own a Chrysler vehicle almost certainly have a radio that was manufactured at the Nogales, Sonora plant.
The day of activity included presentations from Jorge Eduardo Valencia Juillerat, who represented Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto; Moisés Gómez Reyna, the economic secretary of the state of Sonora; and Rigoberto Valenzuela, the Mexican Customs administrator. Other speakers included tourism, business and economic leaders from the state of Sonora.
Consul of Mexico Jaime Paz y Puente reported that Mexico, which is the third largest trade partner of the U.S., has 12 Free Trade Agreements in 44 countries, 28 agreements in protection and promotion of investment, and nine economic association treaties.
Nogales, Sonora Mayor Guzmán summed up the intertwined destinies of Mexico and the U.S. this way: “Two nations—one heart.”
# # #