Nearly 100 business and community leaders from San Diego and Baja California traveled to Mexico City to champion U.S.-Mexico relations and advance issues critical to the success of the binational business community for the 14th annual Binational Delegation to Mexico City, March 31 through April 3, 2019.
The 95-member delegation was the Chamber’s largest ever to Mexico City and represented a diverse mix of San Diego- and Baja-based industries, organizations, and elected officials. Attending for the first time were elected leaders from Escondido, National City, and Encinitas which demonstrates greater regional support for binational relations. Mayors from five San Diego cities took part in the trip: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina, Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas, National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo Solís, and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear.
The trip was the Chamber’s first visit to Mexico’s capital city under the new López Obrador Presidential administration and progress was made on several of our key priorities:
DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMY (SE) – UNDERSECRETARY OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE LUZ MARIA DE LA MORA
- For more than two decades, Mexico and California have cultivated a mutually beneficial partnership, with the commercial exchange between them valued at $74 B in goods in 2018 – $65 B just between San Diego and Mexico.
- USMCA is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to renew the trading system” – current threats for the bilateral trade relationship include section 232 tariffs (steel and aluminum) and the tomato suspension agreement.
- Mexico is working to pass labor reforms by the end of April, which promote workers’ right to unionize, and labor justice, improving living conditions for workers. These are the most significant and progressive labor reforms in Latin America.
- The meeting Power Point is available to download here.
- Undersecretary de la Mora also participated in a press conference about the importance of USMCA and need for ratification by all three countries with Jerry Sanders, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas, National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo Solís, and Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear.
TIJUANA RIVER VALLEY – CONAGUA
- Representatives from the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) reviewed efforts to mitigate transboundary pollution issues in the Tijuana River Valley and committed to investing funds for water reuse projects and a coastal collector.
- Discussion explored public private partnership opportunities with a follow up meeting.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR (SEGOB)
- Met with Secretary of the Interior Olga Sanchez Cordero, the second highest office holder in the federal government (second only to President AMLO)
- Mexico continues efforts to manage the southern border, which includes duplicating existing ports of entry from 12 to 24 in the next few years and streamlining processes to provide identification documents for migrants. This information would be shared with U.S. authorities.
- Mexico’s southern border has a significant cross border commerce similar to the San Diego -Tijuana border, so management must be done without impeding the commercial flow.
BORDER INFRASTRUCTURE PANEL with SCT , SAT, INDAABIN
- A panel conversation on border infrastructure with a vision of modernizing every ports of entry to guarantee efficiency, sustainability, and safety
- Current projects look to reduce border waits and invest in technology. Increased collaboration between agencies has been a focus for this administration, and this will allow projects to be completed in less time.
- SAT leads a cross-border working group to advance border infrastructure projects. The group has met every two to three weeks since January, and includes representatives from SANDAG, Caltrans, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, General Services Administration, San Diego Chamber, and private sector stakeholders.
- The list of priority projects includes the proposed rail port of entry at Tecate.
- Met with Chairs of Senate committee on Northern Affairs and Migration, Senate committee on Foreign Affairs, Senate committee on the Environment, and Senate committee on the Economy.
- Senators expressed how collaboration and communication between the U.S. and Mexico is critical for our North American region to remain globally competitive and moving forward on the issues that both countries face.
- Gustavo Madero (President of the Economy Commission) stated that moving forward on the ratification of USMCA will help return certainty and stability to the binational business community, and highlighted the importance of both governments working together on a development strategy for Central America that addresses the roots of the increasing flow of immigrants northbound.
- San Diego regional Mayors and Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Mexico City shared how mobility and access to water are both priorities and challenges in each of the represented cities.
- Five mayors from the San Diego region participated, two of which were joining us for the first time and one from North County.
- Mayor Dedina said the private sector’s role in advocating for Tijuana River Valley is critical to success.
- Collaboration opportunities such as delegation trips to Mexico City and Washington D.C. allow Mayors from our region to transform their shared vision into a reality, truly advancing projects that impact our communities on both sides of the border.
U.S.-MEXICO RELATIONSHIP PANEL
- Panelists commented on the need for high-level communication between both governments to address shared priorities (challenges). U.S. and MX Presidents are active on media/social media, but share separate messages, and have yet to meet in person. This is the first time a new president (of Mexico) has not meet with the U.S. President within the first 100 days in office.
- Governments change at local and federal levels on both sides of the border, but the one constant is business community. The role of the business community is highly important.
- For example, it was business which led to creation on NAFTA.
- Delegates had two meetings with tourism authorities: Secretary of Tourism for Mexico City Carlos Mackinlay, and Federal Secretary of Tourism Miguel Torruco.
- In 2017, Mexico ranked 6th place in tourism worldwide with an estimated 43 million foreign visitors spending $23.6 billion USD this year.
- Canada and the U.S. represent 65 percent of Mexico’s tourism market.
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (SRE)
- Met with Undersecretary for North America in the Department of Foreign Affairs Jesus Seade. He was AMLO’s lead negotiator in USMCA talks.
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (SENER )
- Met with Undersecretary of Hydrocarbons from the Secretariat of Energy, Alberto Montoya.
- Mexico’s energy market is one to watch as the new administration takes sector in a new direction.
CONGRESSWOMAN FROM BAJA CALIFORNIA
- Delegates heard from Congresswoman Martha Patricia Ramirez (BC, MORENA party), who shared an update on the State of Baja California’s state of affairs.
- Delegates shared cross-border priorities and opportunities for collaboration, including continuing to advance border infrastructure projects and addressing the Tijuana River Valley transboundary pollution.
- In addition, delegates recognized and expressed gratitude for the continuous partnership with the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana and Consul General Sue Saarnio.