NAFTA 2.0 is a big opportunity for San Diego and the entire U.S.-Mexico border region. From the perspective of the cities and states along the U.S.-Mexico border there are two big objectives: first, do no harm to the massive trade, production and investment networks that support over a million U.S. jobs in the border states; and second, assure that NAFTA 2.0 creates new opportunities for economic growth, more fluid commercial border flows, and steps that will make cross-border production more competitive internationally.

The U.S.-Mexico border regions are big beneficiaries of this economic partnership and have much to gain if NAFTA can be modernized in ways that facilitate cross border trade via more rapid border processes, better infrastructure and more modern commercial and customs standards, practices and protections on both sides of the border. If border officials and associations can unite voices and advocate effectively in capitals, they should be able to have an important influence on the outcomes. Border cities and states should press the negotiators to build into their work recognition of the importance of good border processes and cross border infrastructure planning, budgeting and coordination, including commitments for regular stakeholder input in the future.

Border cities and states should form an active and effective border alliance to press the federal governments about the border region’s policy and resource needs during the negotiations. While each locality will have interests and projects, the region will have more clout if it can define and pursue a common agenda. The aim should be to expand the overall NAFTA gains and impact in the border region, from which cities, counties and states can then pursue specific projects.

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