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San Diego-Tijuana Leaders Hope To Influence Trump's Border Policies

Pedestrians cross into Mexico through the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Nov. 3, 2015.
Jean Guerrero
Pedestrians cross into Mexico through the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Nov. 3, 2015.
San Diego-Tijuana Leaders Hope To Influence Trump's Border Policies
San Diego and Tijuana officials and business leaders will meet Wednesday to discuss the region’s potential to influence President-elect Donald Trump’s border and immigration policies.

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce is hosting a binational meeting of officials and business leaders Wednesday to discuss the San Diego-Tijuana region's potential to influence President-elect Donald Trump's border and immigration policies.

“There’s been so much criticism on trade and NAFTA that we need to make sure that we’re telling the full story, and San Diego can tell that full story," said Paola Avila, vice president of the chamber. "It’s the best example for trade, cross-border trade in particular."

San Diego exports more than $4 billion in electronics, auto-parts, aerospace products and more to Mexico every year, she said.


Many of the products that benefit the economies of San Diego and Tijuana cross the border multiple times as raw materials are produced, assembled, then enhanced.

"It's an integrated supply chain, we're producing together and the final product is a U.S.-Mexico product," Avila said. "The deep level of collaboration that we have in San Diego is unparalleled."

Nevertheless, San Diego is only the ninth-largest U.S. exporter to Mexico, Avila said. She said this demonstrates that the country's relationship with Mexico is important nationwide.

"New York, where our president-elect is from, actually exports more to Mexico than we do," she said.

Avila said the region's leaders plan to make the argument that increased border security and facilitated trade aren’t mutually exclusive. They said they hope the new administration boosts both.


"We are a region that has a wall already, and we've been able to overcome that divisiveness," she said, referring to the border fence that covers most of the California-Baja California border region.

She said the region's leaders hope potential NAFTA re-negotiations would include provisions for improved and expanded ports of entry.

"We all agree that NAFTA needs to be renegotiated. It's a 20-year-old document. Anything that old needs to be looked at again," she said. "NAFTA was drafted before e-commerce and a lot of issues around technology need to be updated ... The huge increase in trade has put critical demand on our infrastructure, which did not keep up."

The meeting will take place at the Marriott Marquis and Marina Hotel at noon Wednesday. The featured speaker is Lee Ohanian, a professor of economics at UC Los Angeles.