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San Diego Regional Chamber Of Commerce Heads To Mexico City

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds his first news conferenc...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds his first news conference as president, which started at 7 a.m. local time in Mexico City, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce is leading a delegation of nearly 100 U.S. and Mexican business and community leaders to Mexico City to advocate for projects that benefit the binational region.

It will be the first such delegation to Mexico's capital under the country's new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

"We are so far away from Mexico's capital, just like we are far from DC, so closing that geographic gap is really important, these in-person meetings," said Paola Avila, vice president of international affairs for the chamber.

One of the first actions López Obrador took as president was slashing the value-added tax along the border by half, and doubling the minimum wage along the northern edge.

"Lopez Obrador recognizes the border region as an economic engine, something that actually in the past has not been done," Avila said.

One of the priority projects for the delegation to Mexico City is Otay 2, a toll operated port of entry still in the planning stages. Avila said the chamber expects to secure some progress on the land acquisition side during the trip. She said port of entry improvements are an important, often overlooked part of border security.

"The majority of illegitimate trade, illegitimate movement across the border and criminal activity occurs at our ports of entry," she said. "That's where we need investment, our money and our attention .... by improving technology, infrastructure and staffing, that's how you can address not just efficiency and expediting trade as we promote, but you increase security in that way as well."

The delegation will also push for more action on the cross-border pollution problem in the Tijuana River Valley, and for finalizing the new USMCA trade agreement which has yet to be ratified by the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

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The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce is heading to Mexico City at the end of the month. Nearly 100 U.S. and Mexican business and community leaders will be in the delegation.

You can hear this story and other local news every morning by subscribing to San Diego Stories, KPBS’ daily news podcast. Subscribe via iTunes, Google Play or your favorite podcatcher.

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