Conference Highlights—Realizing the Economic Strength of Our 21st Century Border: Trade, Education and Jobs

by Snell & Wilmer

Hundreds of government, education and business leaders met September 23-25, 2012 in Tempe, Arizona to discuss ways to develop and enhance the already massive amount of trade that crosses the U.S.-Mexico border every year. Rather than focus on negative media reports, the attendees of the conference “Realizing the Economic Strength of Our 21st Century Border: Trade, Education and Jobs” assembled to discuss the current state of trade among the U.S.-Mexico border states and how to best further develop that important trading relationship. The conference, organized by Arizona State University’s North American Border for Transborder Studies, included among its attendees Michael Camuñez, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access & Compliance; Susana Martinez, governor of New Mexico; Laura Dogu, Deputy Chief of Mission; U.S. Embassy in Mexico; Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University; several members of the U.S. House of Representatives; several members of the U.S. Commercial Service, several members of the U.S. Department of State; the mayors of Phoenix, Mesa, San Diego, Tijuana, El Paso, Nogales; and members from the Mexican president-elect’s delegation, in addition to many other business, education and civic leaders.

Several executives from companies that already have a presence in Mexico spoke about the interconnectedness of the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship and the importance of making the border more efficient and user-friendly. Delays at border crossings cost U.S. and Mexican companies several millions of dollars each year. Crow stated that we need to defeat “purposeful ignorance” about Mexico and its status as the United States’ second largest export market and third largest trading partner. Crow indicated that U.S. trade with Mexico surpasses all of the developing “BRIC” countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) combined.

In 2011, U.S.-Mexico goods and services trade reached a half trillion dollars. That’s “trillion, with a T.” Eighty percent of that trade originates within the border zone. Since the North American Free Trade Agreement was passed in 1994, U.S. trade with Mexico has increased five-fold. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that for every $45,000 in export sales, one job is created, more than double the rate of jobs created by domestic sales. Needless to say, the United States and Mexico are inextricably linked economically, geographically and, increasingly, demographically. Increasing exports to Mexico will create jobs in the United States and lower the U.S. trade deficit.

David Hester of Kyocera Mexicana, a $15 billion electronics company that has been in the Mexico market since 1959 stated, “Our region is in competition with the rest of the world. We have products crossing the border up to four times during the manufacturing process. We need an efficient border. Creating jobs on one side of the border will create jobs on the other side.” Hester said, “There is a huge trend to move manufacturing from Asia to Mexico—it has the same time zone, the same culture. Mexico’s economy is actually larger than South Korea’s.”

The border region comprising the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas and the Mexican states of Baja, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas is, in aggregate, the world’s sixth largest economy. In just a few years, it is expected to become the world’s fourth largest economy, surpassing the U.S.-Canada border in trade and economic power. Ben Stein of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off infamy and a noted economic commentator stated that “Mexico is the new China.” John Barela of the State of New Mexico Economic Development Department estimated that by 2015, China’s manufacturing costs will surpass Mexico’s, due to increased transportation and labor costs and lower quality products coming from China.

Guillermo Gutierrez of the Mexican Council of the Maquiladora Industry indicated that in the first six months of 2012, Cuidad Juarez added 21,000 manufacturing jobs. He continued, “For every five manufacturing jobs created in Mexico, one job is created in the U.S.” Economic development in one nation will positively impact the other.

However, the border’s current infrastructure is a major hindrance to cross-border trade. David Mayagoitia, president of the Tijuana Economic Development Corporation quoted Rachel Poynter, U.S.-Mexico border coordinator at the U.S. Department of State, who said, “The border shouldn’t just be a filter for what shouldn’t cross, but a funnel for what should.” At the end of the day, the roads on both sides of the border need to match up. One obvious example where this has not occurred is at the San Isidro border crossing near San Diego/Tijuana, where the infrastructure was completed on the Mexican side of the border, but only phase one of the border was completed on the U.S. side. U.S. Congress still needs to appropriate $300 million for the construction of phases two and three on the U.S. side to complete the infrastructure. That will equate to three more years of delays before the border improvements will be functioning and reducing wait times on both sides.

Scott Smith, mayor of Mesa, Arizona, believes that necessity will eventually outweigh politics with regard to border development. He stated, “We need each other, because we are neighbors.” Smith continued, “All we focus on is illegal immigrants and drugs—the relationship is much broader than that . . . We need to focus on commerce . . . We need to put these issues in the context of the national economy to get the attention of policy makers . . . Commerce is not a sidebar—it is the meat of the issue—if we focus on commerce, the other issues will resolve themselves.”

After interacting with and listening to the major players of the U.S.-Mexico border region for three days, it was readily apparent that leaders on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border view economic development as the single most important issue. Mexico could have the world’s seventh largest economy by 2020. As stated previously, the value of economic trade has already reached a half trillion dollars in 2011. Imagine what that number could be if the public’s perception and policy makers’ perception about Mexico and its role in the global economy changed?

Snell & Wilmer’s footprint is located directly on over half of the border region. Carlos Sugich, Richard Katz, Brett Johnson, Curt Reimann, Ray Jones and numerous other Snell & Wilmer attorneys currently represent U.S. and Mexican companies in the border region. Snell & Wilmer is nicely positioned to take advantage of the development in the border region.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Snell & Wilmer | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Snell & Wilmer

Snell & Wilmer on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.