On August 7th, the Chamber hosted a Good Government Speaker Series roundtable discussion on NAFTA renegotiations with Congressman Darrell Issa. San Diego and Baja California have leveraged NAFTA to create a $2.5 billion manufacturing supply chain that supports co-production between the two cities. Congressman Issa highlighted the importance on modernizing NAFTA and harmonizing environmental standards amongst the three countries. Although communication between different government agencies across borders can be challenging, he added that when success gives you a problem, it is solvable. Problems arising from failures are much difficult to fix, but NAFTA has been a success all along.
The conversation turned to automotive manufacturing and how cars are a great example of products made in the U.S. with the support from Canada and Mexico. Today, 10% of San Diego’s jobs are in manufacturing, because companies allocate here to create intellectual property and co-produce with Mexico. As a result, manufacturing is the second highest paid sector in San Diego after IT. “NAFTA can systematically reduce the barriers on manufacturing across the border, let’s keep looking for opportunities” he added.
In closure, Congressman Issa noted that NAFTA renegotiations is an opportunity for a dialogue on immigration. He commented on the correlation between trade and immigration, and highlighted the need for nimble immigration policies which respond to the changing needs of trade. Rep. Issa further noted the importance of a guest worker program in order to address the shortage of labor force in the U.S. in certain industries and prevent hiring of undocumented labor.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented Congressman Issa with the “Spirit of Enterprise” award, naming him the champion of small business organizations, for his 100% voting record on businesses’ highest priority issues last year.