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New trade deal good news for Southern AZ

USMCA important to huge cross-border economy
Posted at 8:04 PM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-10 22:04:25-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - It was a big relief for a lot of Southern Arizona businesses -- when word came from Washington that there's a deal to approve -- the long stalled international trade agreement.

It’s a busy time at Chamberlain Distributing in Nogales. Right now workers are moving green peppers grown in Mexico. It's part of a multi million dollar industry bringing fruit and vegetables from Mexico ----and that industry plays by the rules of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

NAFTA is more than 20 years old. Now Congress and the President have agreed on a modernized trade deal: the US Mexico Canada Agreement or USMCA.

Cross border businesses require a lot of investment in warehouses and factories and people and a new trade agreement gives businesses the confidence they need to move ahead.

Jaime Chamberlain says he's starting to build a new produce warehouse next month but it would have started sooner if the trade agreement had not been up in the air.

"I did put them on ice for a year previous until I actually started to go forward with this so....This project should have started a year ago."

Produce may be our best known cross border commerce but even more business goes into manufacturing.

Businesses in Arizona provide parts that go to factories in Mexico for final assembly.

Tucson Metro Chamber CEO Amber Smith says with cross-border trade bringing an eleven billion dollar impact to Arizona, the Chamber and other business leaders travelled to Washington to push for the trade deal's approval.

Smith says, "The Chamber has been very involved, through even going to DC to lobby and support of passing USMCA, and we held a summit and forum as well in partnership with the University about the importance of it--- all part of the educational process, and we will continue to do so.”

Because any new trade deal is complex it will take time to understand all the details and learn how to make the most of the new rules for doing business across borders.