The mayors and San Diego and 24 other border cites called on the president and Congress Friday to include Canada in a revised North American Free Trade Agreement.
The mayors, meeting in San Antonio, approved a resolution seeking to “maintain a trilateral trade partnership for the North American region in order to optimize the region’s competitiveness.”
The resolution comes as the Trump administration warned Friday that despite months of negotiations, Canada may not be included, making the revised NAFTA a bilateral pact between the United States and Mexico.
Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, told Fox News that the United States was prepared to move ahead without having Canada in the deal.
The border cities’ resolution was signed by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum and the mayors of San Antonio and El Paso, among others.
The mayors also called on both the United States and Mexico to upgrade the border crossings with adequate staffing, new technology and a single trusted-traveler system. The resolution asked that all tariffs and fees collected at the border be used to fund improvements.
“The joint efforts between bordering cities in Mexico and the United States is of vital importance,” Gastelum said. “Together we can strengthen social and economic development for our region. Especially on issues of border security and infrastructure, as this benefits citizens on both sides of the border.”
Faulconer and Gastelum co-chair the U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association, which met this week in San Antonio for the seventh time. The annual meeting included 25 mayors from border cities in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and the Mexican states of Coahuila, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua and Baja California.
“By working together, this group of mayors plays a critical role in building bridges between our two countries and showing how collaboration can lead to economic prosperity for the border region,” Faulconer said. “We’ve come together with a collective voice to call on our federal leaders to invest more in border infrastructure and modernize trade regulations as we work at growing the competitive advantage we have as border cities.”
The resolutions call for increases in the legal cross-border flow of goods, services and people as well as modernization of NAFTA. Summit attendees discussed the current state of relations and trade between the U.S. and Mexico, transportation networks and immigration.
Association Executive Director and former El Paso Mayor John Cook helped form the organization in 2011 at the behest of former U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Alan Bersin.
San Diego’s then-Mayor Jerry Sanders joined the organization prior to leaving office in 2012. Faulconer has revitalized San Diego’s role in the organization, which deteriorated in the years prior to his 2014 election, according to spokeswoman Ashley Bailey.
Updated at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 21, 2018
— City News Service contributed to this report.
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