Partnering with entities in Mexico, Canada, and within the United States, the Border Trade Alliance is a nonprofit organization that promotes public policy and private sector initiatives that facilitate cross-border trade and commerce through advocacy efforts, education, research and analysis, and strategic planning. Chamber VP of International Business Affairs, Paola Avila, currently serves as Chair of the BTA.
Last month, the BTA honored Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar with the “Friend of the Americas” Award during their annual “Building a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border” conference in Mexico City. This award is presented to individuals who demonstrate leadership and commitment to increasing the economic and cultural relationship between both countries.
During his service in the Texas Legislature and in Congress, Rep. Cuellar has championed efforts to promote free trade policies and agreements and improve efficiency and security at ports of entry have made a positive impact in border communities. Texas is the first place where U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Mexican Customs have joint inspection operations for all modes of transportation (land, air and rail). Together with Senator Cornyn, Rep. Cuellar enabled the ability to find innovative solutions for capital improvement requirements at ports of entry for CBP, the private sector, and state and local governments through the Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2016. He also advocated to include $223 million in the Department of Homeland Security spending bill for fiscal year 2019 to accelerate CBP’s work to deploy inspection platforms that can safely automate the inspection process increasing efficiency when processing cargo.
Congressman Cuellar stated that “The relationship between the United States and Mexico runs deep and bridges commercial, cultural, and educational divides. As a lifelong member of the border community, it is an honor to receive this award. I am committed to elevate our cross-border relationships and strengthen business and cultural ties. Cross-border cooperation and collaboration has proved to be an ingredient for success, and it is all the more important that we continue to engage and partner with our neighbors to the south”. He further thanked Paola Avila, BTA Chair and Chamber VP, and the BTA for their hard work and commitment to foster bilateral relations and promoting trade between the United States and Mexico. In her remarks, Avila stated “Congressman Cuellar is incredibly deserving of this award. On complicated and sometimes contentious issues facing stakeholders who live and work along the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders, Rep. Cuellar offers a continuous desire to make our border regions better and enhance the quality of life around them.”
Previous recipients of the “Friend of the Americas” award include former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and Dr. Herminio Blanco, Mexico’s chief negotiator of the North American Free Trade Agreement.