As the new Presidential administration has begun its focus to strengthen immigration policies and re-negotiate trade agreements, the Imperial-Mexicali binational community is preparing itself for the upcoming changes to NAFTA.
The Imperial Valley-Mexicali Binational Alliance (IMBA) met last Thursday, January 26, at CETYS University in Mexicali where the group discussed border infrastructure and economic development updates in Mexicali and Imperial Valley. That week, President Donald Trump announced a series of executive actions, one of them was in regards of immigration and his intent to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
As part of his foreign policy, President Trump announced that during his inaugural address that he will work on trade deals that only benefit the American worker. Trump signed an order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As stated in his America First Foreign Policy, President Trump is committed to renegotiating NAFTA. If partners refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal, then the President will give notice of the United States’ intent to withdraw from NAFTA.
“In addition to rejecting and reworking failed trade deals, the United States will crack down on those nations that violate trade agreements and harm American
workers in the process. The President will direct the Commerce Secretary to identify all trade violations and to use every tool at the federal government’s disposal to end these abuses.” The policy stated.
According to the Imperial County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, Mexico is California’s highest ranking trade partner and Imperial County processes an estimated 30% of this trade through its land Port of Entry at Calexico East and Calexico West. In 2013, the Calexico POE accommodated over 325, 690 incoming trucks, transporting goods valued at $13.1 billion ($5.7 billion in exports and $7.4 billion in imports). Previous origin and destination surveys by Caltrans estimate that 79% of these cross-border goods have origins and destinations throughout California and 21% to and from other U.S. states, Asia, Canada, Europe and South America.
At the IMBA meeting, it was acknowledge that there are interesting times ahead but the binational work needs to continue.
Tim Kelley, Executive Director of the Imperial County Economic Development Corporation, said that there are issues that come up; the IMBA group has a much unified voice that is able to speak with the federal government in Mexico and the U.S. and come up with some solutions.
“Depending on what the regulations are and the opportunities that why have to the close proximity with each other, we will continue to work together regardless what happens and although it may be a hindrance in some communities further south in Mexico, it might create opportunities for us here at the border.” Kelley said.
Kelley said that there will be changes to NAFTA but hoped those changes would be to benefit the region and they need to prepare themselves quickly as they hear about the new regulations.
Sergio Tagliapieta representing the Economic Development Commission of Mexicali, said that the IMBA group is one of the many examples that they to show how they can work in a united way with common goals.
“This is not the first and last time that as business people have rocks in the stones in the road.” Tagliapieta said. “In regards to NAFTA, each industry needs to look at their options but there are avenues that exist by law regarding border tariffs depending on their product they can use to minimize the impact their products may have if NAFTA is changed.”
Source Calexico Chronicle