The Chamber and its partners across the Cali-Baja region have been a leading voice in support of NAFTA, raising awareness of the trade agreement’s benefits to not only the San Diego region, but across the nation. From testifying in support of NAFTA at Congressional hearings, to hosting a panel discussion with Congressmen, and mobilizing members and supporters to send more than 300 letters in support of NAFTA to the U.S. Trade Representative during the comment period, we were successful in preventing an immediate cancellation of the agreement.
The Chamber also led advocacy for legislation in support of San Diego’s 40,000 Dreamers, and partnered with the National Immigration Forum to enroll more than 55 businesses in the New American Workforce program that helps eligible green card holders to pursue U.S. citizenship. This benefits employers by increasing employee retention, satisfaction, and increased civic engagement.
Mobilizing to defeat a threat to business and cross-border commerce, the Chamber worked to oppose the Border Adjustment Tax that would have added costs to integrated supply chains and impaired cross-border commerce. Chamber President & CEO Jerry Sanders testified at a Congressional hearing where he highlighted these risks, and on July 27th, 2017, Republican leadership in Congress and the White House formally stepped away from pushing the Border Adjustment Tax.
During our 12th Annual Binational Delegation to Mexico City, the Chamber signed a historic memorandum of understanding with Mexico’s Senate, expanding the influence of San Diego and northern Baja California leaders on Mexican legislation related to ports of entry, trade, and immigration. We continue to work closely with the Senate as we combine agendas and design a collaboration plan for the upcoming years. A major accomplishment following the MOU was the opening of PedWest Southbound, improving the efficient movement of the 63,000 pedestrians crossing each day.
In our effort to inform and educate, the Chamber helped found #OneBorder, a network of private sector stakeholders promoting the binational relationship and collaboration. This coalition includes business and community leaders from San Diego/Tijuana to Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Mexico.
The Chamber was proud to play a role in coordinating the reestablishment of the Cross-Border Railroad, which will undoubtedly result in a large economic boost and strengthen our region’s position as a competitor in the global market.
Through our ongoing advocacy efforts, the Chamber secured funding for the improvements of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The overall project improves the roadway alignment for vehicles entering Mexico, will add eight northbound vehicle inspection lanes with 15 inspection booths, and expand the number of southbound vehicle inspection lanes from five to 10 within the Port, and from 10 to 19 at the El Chaparral border crossing.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Mexico’s Tax Administration service partnered to conduct joint cargo inspections to reduce waiting times at the border at the Otay Port of Entry, reduce the cost of doing business in the region, and facilitate cross-border commerce. The Chamber will continue to advocate for its expansion and permanence in order to increase cross-border commerce and binational collaboration.