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Phoenix breaks through ‘border wall’ with new Mexican trade pact

City of PhoenixPhoenix, Arizona (Mar. 27, 2017). Mayors Greg Stanton, Phoenix, Arizona, and Jesus Valdés, Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico, entered into a trade and cultural memorandum of understanding between the two cities Mar. 24.

Mayor Stanton met then Mayor-Elect Valdés in Phoenix in October 2016, and determined that the two cities offered opportunities for business to increase cross-border economic activity with joint initiatives focused on trade, investment, innovation and knowledge exchange.

The capital city of Sinaloa, Culiacan has an equivalent metro population of more than 850,000 people. The city is bisected by Mexico Route 15, the southern extension of Interstate 11, the International Commerce Corridor. MX 15 will connect Mexico to Arizona, and I-11 is to connect Mexico through the Phoenix metro to Interstate 15 in Las Vegas. A portion of I-11 is under construction north of the Colorado River at Boulder City, Nevada.

“It’s well-known that real economic development occurs at the city limits,” said Mayor Stanton. “We have many residents with family ties to Culiacán, and want to leverage those personal and business relationships.”

The two mayors first broached the idea of creating binational economic initiatives in the Phoenix meeting in last October.

“Culiacán is the largest exporter of Mexican vegetables to the United States and Phoenix,” Mayor Valdés said. “But we have many universities and significant agricultural research and development with relationships with Arizona State University and University of Arizona.”

The expectation following execution of the Memorandum is that trade missions from Phoenix and from Culiacán will begin to connect industry associations and companies. The Mexican city is looking to increase strategic industry opportunities in aerospace, agriculture, automotive, food and general manufacturing, and technology in addition to other industries mutually supporting the Phoenix and Culiacán economies.

There are also plans to encourage foreign direct investment on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.

Gov. Quirino Ordaz Coppel, Sinaloa, sent a message to Mayor Stanton relayed by Dr. Francisco Manuel Cordova Celaya, the coordinator of Special Projects and International Relations in the Governor’s office, who was part of the entourage from Sinaloa.

“(Sinaloa) wants to take advantage of (Phoenix’s) foreign relations outreach,” the governor’s message read. Gov. Coppel said that his state was not worried about the U.S. federal government policies because the Mexican federal government supports trade with Arizona.

“The real work gets done at the local level,” the message said.

Mayor Stanton, who is preparing to leave Mar. 27 on his 18th trade mission to Mexico said that Arizona’s southern neighbor is a critical part of the Phoenix economy.

“We’re working with the business community in Culiacán and Phoenix to build bridges to a better economy for both cities,” said Mayor Stanton.”

The bilateral agreement also opens the door for knowledge exchange for innovation, research and education. A similar initiative with Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico has been showing results beneficial to both cities, according to Stanton.

The signing ceremony comes ahead of Mayor Stanton leading his 18th trade mission, this time to open the new Hermosillo Trade Office for the city of Phoenix, its second on-the-ground trade bureau in Mexico. Phoenix opened its Mexico City Trade Office in 2015.

Mayor Valdés said that his city wanted to start cultural and sports exchanges.

“We’re talking with the (Arizona) Diamondbacks about playing a game in Culiacán,” said Mayor Valdés. “(Culiacán) has the best baseball in Mexico.”

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