California leaders take part in binational event in Mexico City
After a two-year pause caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, almost 100 business, community and government leaders from San Diego and Baja California have arrived in Mexico City to promote U.S.-Mexico relations and binational business issues, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce announced Monday.
The chamber's 15th annual Binational Delegation to Mexico City returned with priorities to advance the border region, according to a news release.
On Monday, the event began with a discussion on the economy, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the U.S.-Mexico relationship with Roberto Velasco, chief officer for North America from the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs.
Jerry Sanders, San Diego chamber president and CEO, said at a press conference that the trip is "building on that foundation to tell our region's story and advocate for the projects and policies that are crucial to our binational region."
"While this is our first trip back to Mexico City since the pandemic, our efforts to support and strengthen our binational voice have been going strong," Sanders said.
Nora Vargas, vice chairwoman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, said the binational region's economic, social and cultural power "depends greatly on the strong relationships and collaboration between the U.S. and Mexico and the commitment to invest equitably in infrastructure projects that ensure economic prosperity and quality of life for our residents."
Vargas added the gathering can advance infrastructure and environmental projects, including the Tijuana River Valley and Otay Mesa East Port of Entry.
Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero Ramirez said strengthening the binational agenda is a priority for her region, especially after together achieving the World Design Capital designation for San Diego and Tijuana in 2024.
"Let the geography and culture that bring us together be highlighted in more efforts to work together for the benefit and future of our community," Caballero Ramirez said.
California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis said the state considers Mexico to be its closest and most important foreign partner.
"We believe this not just because of our significant economic ties, but because we are joined through our shared histories and cultures, by our people, and by our shared fundamental values," Kounalakis said.
Along with Ken Salazar, U.S. ambassador to Mexico, delegates will meet with:
-members of the Mexican Senate;
-Lydia Antonio de la Garza, an official with the Secretariat of Economy to discuss regional incentives and foreign direct investment opportunities in Mexico;
-Roberto Velasco, chief officer for the North America Unit of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs, for a border infrastructure forum that includes Otay Mesa II project and efforts to reopen PedWest in San Diego County; and
-leadership from the Mexican section of the International Boundary and Water Commission
and Mexico's National Water Commission on reducing transboundary pollution in the Tijuana River Valley.
According to the chamber, this year's delegation is its largest ever to Mexico City and "represents a diverse mix of San Diego- and Baja-based industries, organizations and elected officials.
Other participants are, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria; U.S. Rep. Scott Peters; Mexican Deputy Maite Vargas Meraz; Kurt Honold, Baja economy and innovation secretary; San Diego City Council members Sean Elo-Rivera, Joe La Cava, Marni von Wilpert and Stephen Whitburn; Tijuana City Councilmembers Rogelia Arzola and Juan Carlos Hank; California state Assemblymembers David Alvarez and Chris Ward; consul generals Carlos Gonzales Gutierrez and Oz Kurt; Coronado City Councilmember Bill Sandke; and La Mesa City Councilmember Colin Parent.