In 2014, several organizations partnered to hold a series of four US-Mexico Regional Economic Competitiveness Forums to analyze trends and opportunities to improve the US-Mexico border economy, and enhance bi-naitonal cooperation. Representatives from the border Legislative Conference, the Council of State Governments – West, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Mexico Institute, the North American Research Partnership, USAID – Mexico, and the Congressional Border Caucus travelled to pivotal border regions (San Diego/Tijuana, Nogales/Nogales, El Paso/Ciudad Juárez, and Laredo/Nuevo Laredo) to review progress, identify weaknesses, and engage stakeholders for the creation of a report on enhancing the border economy with several key policy recommendations.
The full US-Mexico border economy report discusses many recommendations to improve both the region, as a whole, and major economic sectors specifically. Highlighted below are some of the most pertinent observations made, and policy recommendations offered for ensuring increased prosperity and cooperation between the two nations that participants assert are partners rather than competitors.
1. Implement and promote Mega Regions and cross-border urban planning and development along the border to enhance collaboration among border communities and economic stakeholders.
2. Partner public with private sector for the building of ports-of-entry infrastructure.
3. Cross-border transportation options should be implemented, such as trolleys, dedicated bus lanes, and trusted traveler programs.
4. Increase participation in pre-inspection programs and entry automation.
5. Promote binational and cross-border urban planning projects and communities for an enhanced binational identity and sense of unity.
6. Establish a binational education task force for the fostering of greater cooperation between regional universities and technical schools to attract and train a highly specialized workforce for the unique industry demands along the border.
7. Increase focus on cross-border assets.
8. Develop renewable energy clusters maximizing the efficiency of power-generation infrastructure.
Specific Observations by US-Mexico Border Economy Regions
Four principal geographies, in particular, anchor the competitiveness of the border region. Each evidence areas for improvement: .
- California/Baja California: Noted for its size, the potential to harness the human capital in this region is profound; manufacturing clusters already present must be expanded and enhanced through improved connectivity and intermodal transport networks.
- Arizona/Sonora: With a history of cross-border cooperation, this region should strengthen its state-to-state relationship and increase cooperative infrastructure investments.
- Paso del Norte Region (El Paso/Ciudad Juárez/Chihuahua/Las Cruces/Santa Teresa): Historically the birthplace and stronghold of manufacturing maquiladoras with a strong emphasis on education, this region provides a model for other regions to follow, but must continue to improve and lead the way in binational cooperation and innovation.
- South Texas/Tamaulipas/Nuevo León/Coahuila: As a strategic logistics corridor, this region sees a massive transfer of manufactured goods, offering significant opportunities for backward integration and reduced shipping costs.