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Arizona, Sonora governors to meet at border conference

June 29, 2019

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Republicans on Friday urged U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to schedule a vote on a plan to modify the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying it’s crucial to Arizona’s economy.

Gov. Doug Ducey and Sen. Martha McSally have been strong backers of U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement negotiated at the insistence of President Donald Trump, who threatened to pull out of NAFTA if it wasn’t renegotiated.

“I never thought I’d say this, but we’re counting on Nancy Pelosi,” said McSally, a Republican facing a tough race in next year’s election. “The destiny of USMCA is in her hands.”

Mexico is Arizona’s largest trading partner, and Canada is third after China. The state did $20.4 billion worth of trade with the two North American countries last year.

“I’d love to pull all the politics and partisanship out of this,” Ducey said, adding it’s an improvement on a NAFTA agreement that he says boosted prosperity and peace on the continent.

They spoke at a conference for the Arizona Mexico Commission, which promotes cross-border trade, transportation, tourism and other ties.

Gov. Claudia Pavlovich of Sonora, the Mexican state that borders Arizona, echoed the urgency of approving the trade pact, though she didn’t single out Pelosi.

“I want you to do everything you can to get it approved in Congress,” Pavlovich told mayors and business leaders. “It’s going to be a great (deal) for Sonora, Arizona.”

Failing to pass the trade pact would leave NAFTA in place, but some worry Trump would pull out of the agreement and institute tariffs that would cripple the enormous flow of food and goods across the northern and southern U.S. borders.

Pavlovich and Ducey celebrated strong ties between their states, which regularly collaborate on trade and other issues. About 25 million people and 10 million cars and trucks entered Arizona from Sonora last year. Arizona exported $7.7 billion worth of goods to Mexico in 2018.

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