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NAFTA Negotiations Could Start Late 2017

The Nogales-Mariposa Port of Entry
Office of the Governor of Arizona
Produce distributors in Nogales and Santa Cruz County want to add a cold inspection facility to the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona, to promote the import of berries, leafy greens and other produce from Mexico in the hot summer months.

Trade negotiations between the U.S., Mexico and Canada could begin at the end of 2017 and last for a year, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross told Bloomberg on Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, businesses in Arizona and south of the border are bracing for the outcome.

Mexico and Canada are two of the U.S.’ top three trading partners. (The other is China.) And in Arizona, more than 40 percent of exported goods go to Mexico. In the last three months of 2016, Arizona businesses exported almost $670 million worth of goods to Mexico, according to an analysis by the University of Arizona.

Jose Andres Garcia, the city of Phoenix’s trade representative in Mexico City, said Mexican companies looking to invest in Arizona are apprehensive — and that Arizona businesses are, too.

“Companies haven’t defined in the short term their plans with Mexico because they don’t want to go into something before they have a specific idea of what is happening or the time frame of when things are going to be happening,” Garcia said.

Phoenix and state of Arizona officials and businesses regularly organize trade missions to Mexico. Most recently, Arizona Chamber of Commerce leaders met with top business executives in Mexico, Garcia said.

A North American trade deal being struck next year could be good news for businesses averse to uncertainty. Otherwise, it could take much longer, as a new Mexican president takes office at the end of 2018.

Jorge Valencia was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2016 to 2019.