On D.C. Trip, San Diego Mayor Plans To Tout NAFTA’s Success
Faulconer will also discuss veteran homelessness, energy in speaking engagements, meetings
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer will be visiting the nation’s capital to talk up the regional benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Faulconer’s Washington D.C. visit, where he’ll also speak about veteran homelessness, comes as representatives from the U.S., Canada and Mexico are in Montreal to renegotiate the trinational deal.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the agreement and at one point threatened to withdraw. As the White House’s stance on free trade could put the 24-year-old NAFTA deal in jeopardy, Faulconer plans to speak out about its billion-dollar impact on San Diego at Washington D.C. conferences and meetings this week.
More than 110,000 San Diego-area jobs would be affected if the U.S. backed out of the free trade deal, Faulconer said in an interview prior to his D.C.-bound flight Tuesday. The Republican mayor said he plans to stress the deal’s vital role in the region during a panel appearance at The Wilson Center and a meeting with a Congressional committee's chief trade counsel.
“It’s showing that pressure, showing that strong support, again at the local level, on why free trade works,” he said.
Faulconer will also meet with the Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., a mayoral spokesman said in an email.
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Paola Avila, who is also attending the Wilson Center conference, said many companies in the region would suffer if NAFTA renegotiations fell apart. She pointed to Chosen Foods, which is headquartered in San Diego. The company produces avocado oil and depends on the imported fruit from Mexico because U.S. output doesn’t meet its needs, Avila said.
“There’s only so much you can do under the natural environment and so this is one (company) that does not have a choice of producing in the U.S.,” said Avila, the chamber’s vice president of international business affairs. “They cannot move operations to the U.S., which is, of course, one of the reasons or intentions for the NAFTA renegotiations on behalf of the (Trump) Administration.”
San Diego is the nation’s 20th largest exporter and its top trade partner is Mexico, according to a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Nearly one-third of San Diego’s total exports, valued at more than $5.8 billion, landed south of the border in 2016. Exports to the region’s second-biggest recipient, Canada, totaled just more than $1 billion.
Also this week, Faulconer will discuss San Diego’s efforts to reduce homelessness among veterans at the 86th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He will also be meeting with federal officials to push for better funding formulas that could result in more dollars for homeless services.
Faulconer said currently, San Diego is missing out on “several million dollars a year.”
The mayor has been criticized for his handling of the city of San Diego’s homeless crisis, especially during a Hepatitis A outbreak that largely affected those living on the streets. However, some applauded his “Housing our Heroes” program that focused specifically on former service members.
Faulconer is also scheduled to meet with a group of mayors focused on advocating for the homeless, moderate a discussion on international trade and speak on a panel about energy technology and partnerships.