U.S. Commerce Department promoting cross-border trade

August 29, 2012

The U.S. Commerce Department has sent a representative to the Southwest to promote cross-border trade with Mexico. As KJZZ’s Peter O’Dowd reports, the message is that border states are missing an opportunity.
PETER O’DOWD: Trade between the two countries reached a record half-trillion dollars last year. But not all states are created equal. Exports from Arizona to Mexico have stayed flat since 2008, while exports from Texas, Michigan and California have seen solid growth. Walter Bastian is a deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Commerce Department. He says plenty of states could do better.

WALTER BASTIAN: There’s still money being left on the table. We’re not taking full advantage.

O’DOWD: Bastian is in Arizona this week promoting efforts at the city level to grow cross-border business. Experts say the opportunity is ripe. Mexico’s economy is growing more than 4 percent a year. So this begs the question: why are exports from a state so close to the border not keeping up? Erik Lee at the North American Center for Transborder Studies at Arizona State University says the business community here has historically focused on other things – like real estate.

ERIK LEE: When you have such a dominate industry what it does to some extent it crowds out the growth of other industries such as manufacturing.

O’DOWD: ASU will dig into these trade questions in more depth next month. The Transborder center is bringing together leaders in international politics and business for a three-day conference to discuss cross-border opportunities in aerospace and renewable energy.