Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Border Duty-Free Zones
SAN DIEGO Clothing, school supplies and golf clubs are a few of the items that will now enter select areas along Mexico’s border with the U.S. duty-free. Last Friday, on a visit to Tijuana, Mexican president Felipe Calderón signed a decree reducing or eliminating import duties on 200 products.
The measure affects products sold along the entire Baja California peninsula, and the northwestern portion of the Mexican state of Sonora, which borders Arizona.
Local business leaders have long lobbied for the measure. They hope to keep Mexican consumers spending their pesos in Mexico rather than crossing to shop at U.S. malls.
“Baja California needs the income and the employment, and yet we’re giving it to the communities of Southern California (and Arizona)," said Noé Arón Fuentes, head of the economics department at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana.
According to a recent study, Tijuana has the fifth largest population of people living in poverty anywhere in Mexico.
The move could mean a short-term loss of revenue for some retailers on the U.S. side of the border.
“But in the long-run, it’s a good thing because it puts more money into the hands of consumers,” said Christina Luhn from the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. Luhn directs an initiative to promote the Southern California, Northern Mexico border area as an integrated "mega-region."
The Baja duty-free zone is the first step in a plan to turn the peninsula into a Strategic Economic Zone, like those which have helped turn small Chinese villages into prosperous industrial centers.
The next goal for the two states on the Baja California peninsula is to attract more businesses involved in technological innovation.