California and Mexico are Essential Partners

Gary Toebben
President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce

Gov. Jerry Brown’s Trade Mission to Mexico last week sent the right message to business leaders in Mexico and California. Mexico is California’s largest export market and businesses know how important it is to take care of your largest customers. Gov. Brown and his 130-member delegation were warmly received by Mexican elected officials and business leaders at every event during the four-day visit.

The governor’s trade mission coincided with the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton and took effect on Jan. 1, 1994. NAFTA eliminated most of the tariffs and barriers to trade between the U.S. and Mexico and has contributed to a dramatic increase in economic trade between our two nations. Business and government leaders from Mexico voiced their strong support for NAFTA throughout the trade mission.

Recognizing that the majority of trade between California and Mexico is transported by truck, Gov. Brown expressed his concern about the long delays at the border crossings.  He pledged to work with U.S. and Mexican officials to reduce the delays to make trade more efficient and less expensive to the ultimate customer.  

Two of the goals of the trade mission were to expand the sale of California agricultural products and increase the number of Mexican tourists visiting California. The mission also laid the foundation for California’s traditional energy companies and our growing clean-tech and renewable energy companies to participate in the upcoming reform of Mexico’s energy sector.

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and the U.S. Commercial Service presented outstanding briefings on doing business in Mexico. Two San Diego based companies doing business in Mexico City, IEnova, a Sempra Energy company, and Qualcomm Incorporated, hosted delegates at their facilities to discuss their plans for growing business operations in Mexico. In addition, a subset of the delegation representing higher education held meetings initiating an agreement to increase student exchanges between universities in California and Mexico.

I applaud Gov. Brown and the California Chamber of Commerce for organizing this trade mission to build on the historic cultural and economic ties between California and Mexico.  Our futures are intertwined and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce was proud to be a partner.

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