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The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement trade deal is essentially an update of NAFTA, which went into effect in 1994. Courtesy photo
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San Diego County delegates call for ratification of cross-border trade deal

MEXICO CITY — A group of local leaders and officials called on Congress today to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a trade deal which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The group is part of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 14th annual Binational Delegation to Mexico City and includes San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear and Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas.

Members of the delegation touted free trade as an economic boon to the San Diego and northern Mexico region, allowing for increased cross-border commerce and employment.

According to the chamber, trade between Mexico and San Diego has fostered a $2.5 billion supply chain and more than 100,000 jobs.

Annual trade between California and Mexico is valued at roughly $73 billion.

“Ratification of USMCA is vital to strengthening economic prosperity, growing jobs and supporting communities on both sides of the border,” said chamber President and CEO Jerry Sanders. “We are impressed by the steps Mexico is making to gain legislative approval and we will share that as we continue to push for congressional approval at home.”

The deal is essentially an update of NAFTA, which went into effect in 1994. President Donald Trump, who campaigned on retooling NAFTA, has faced pushback from members of Congress for facets of the deal like tariffs on steel and aluminum and the deal’s enforcement provisions.

The International Trade Commission is expected to release its economic impact report on the deal later this month. The Congress will then have several months to decide whether to vote in favor of the deal. Trump has reportedly considered pulling the country out of NAFTA wholesale to prod Congress into approving the deal.

National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo Solis and Mexico’s Undersecretary of Foreign Trade Luz Maria de la Mora also expressed support for the deal.

According to Faulconer, NAFTA provisions have made San Diego and northern Mexico more economically entwined than ever.

“The decades-old NAFTA agreement has supported growth across all industries, and we want to see that growth continue,” Faulconer said.

The delegation, which includes roughly 100 business and local leaders from San Diego County and the Baja California region, is expected to continue discussions on the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico through Wednesday.