AUSTIN, Texas – This Thursday’s Rio Grande International Trade Day in Austin just became a lot more regional in nature.

Cindy Ramos-Davidson, CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, announced her group would be participating at the state Capitol.

Cindy Ramos-Davidson

“International trade is critically important to our community, knowing that Mexico is our second largest trading partner. In El Paso, Texas, I can see Juárez right outside my window. Our lives have been intertwined from day one,” Ramos-Davidson told the Rio Grande Guardian.

“It is important that border communities like El Paso share the positive side of international trade and what that does for the State of Texas and economic development across the country. When you look at all the consumer goods people use across the United States, many of those parts were made thanks to a partnership with Mexico. I think it is important for people to understand that it is a healthy relationship built on commerce and trade. I think telling the right side of the story is important.”

Asked if potential changes to U.S.-Mexico trade policy requires border communities to become more vocal in their support of international trade, Ramos-Davidson said:

“That is correct. That is why many of the communities along the border are linking arms and joining hands with our partners across the border, just to tell the right side of the story. We are intertwined with our friends to the south and the magical elements of that relationship needs to be strongly told, especially to those who have policy responsibilities. Commercial relationships that took years to build could be broken in a matter of minutes.”

Rio Grande International Trade Day in Austin on Thursday, March 30, 2017, seeks to celebrate trade with Mexico. A resolution honoring international trade will be offered in the Texas House by state Rep. Terry Canales of Edinburg. A similar resolution will be offered in the Texas Senate by state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., of Brownsville. Meetings for those participating on the trip to Austin have been set up with state lawmakers and state leaders, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, who chairs the House Committee on International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs.

The three conveners of Rio Grande International Trade Day in Austin are the Lower Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Camara de Comercio Internacional, otherwise known as CAMCOIN.

Among the sponsors are the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Texas International Produce Association, Pharr International Bridge, Donna International Bridge, Progreso International Bridge, and U.S. Citrus, LLC. Among those attending are representatives from the City of McAllen and the City of Edinburg.

International Trade statistics

Carlos Marin, chairman of CAMCOIN, pointed to these trade statistics:

Canada and Mexico are the U.S.’s top two export markets, and two of the nation’s top three total trading partners;
Texas exports to Mexico have increased by 363.8 percent since NAFTA went into effect;
Last year, trade activity through the Lone Star State’s 29 ports of entry supported more than one and a half million Texas jobs;
The five ports in Laredo alone account for more than $52 billion of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), with 14,000 trucks passing through daily;
In 2015, El Paso was the 12th largest exporter in the United States, with $24.6 billion worth of goods exported;
Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge facilitates about $30 billion in trade a year;
More than $236 billion worth of goods and services were exported to Mexico in 2015
Nearly $295 billion worth of goods and services were imported from Mexico in 2015
Texas posted merchandise exports of $94.5 billion to Mexico in 2015, representing 37.6 percent of the state’s total merchandise exports.

Border Adjustment Tax

One of the ways trade with Mexico could be impacted by federal policy changes is the introduction of a Border Adjustment Tax. The idea is to tax imported goods to offset a tax reduction in other corporate taxes. Some analysts say the tax will be passed on to U.S. consumers.

Asked if the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has a view on the Border Adjustment Tax, Ramos-Davidson said her organization is currently conducting a survey of its 1,200 members. She said the survey results should be known in a couple of weeks.

“We want to know, if the Border Adjustment Tax become a reality, which businesses would be hurt. Would they be passing the tax on to the consumer? Would they be holding back on inventory? Would they stop hiring? These are the questions we are asking.”

Asked if she would like to make any other comments about Rio Grande International Trade Day, Ramos-Davidson said:

“I think it is great we have the Hispanic chambers of commerce coming together to offer a positive message about international trade and the economic role border communities play. It is a great opportunity to tell our story, about what is right about border communities. The sort of stories you do not see in some media outlets.”

Contact Information

For more information about Rio Grande International Trade Day in Austin, contact:

Cynthia Sakulenzki, of the RGV Hispanic Chamber, at 956-451-5255;
Tony Gutierrez, of the Lower Valley Hispanic Chamber, at 956-536-1448;
Carlos Marin, of Camara de Comercio Internacional, at 956-776-5538.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows trucks crossing the Zaragoza International Bridge in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez.