BROWNSVILLE, RGV – The 2017 International Trade Symposium, hosted by the Brownsville Licensed U.S. Customs Brokers Association, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Port of Brownsville, takes place on Thursday, June 8.

Carlos R. Ruiz, newly elected president of the Brownsville Licensed U.S. Customs Brokers Association, said it’s the first time such an event has been held in Brownsville and Cameron County. He said he hopes attendees get a lot out of it.

“More than anything it is a State of the Area Address to educate the county and the city on what local stakeholders in international trade are doing. We hope it will help additional stakeholders develop future plans for infrastructure, employees, etc., in preparation for future growth,” Ruiz said.

Asked how important international trade is, Ruiz said: “For Cameron County and Brownsville, I would say international trade is its lifeblood. Most counties along the border would probably agree with that.”

Asked if the symposium had come about as a result of the Trump Administration’s focus on NAFTA, border security and immigration, Ruiz said: “No, we were talking about putting this event on before Trump came into office. We don’t think there will be any changes to NAFTA in the near future. It will take an agreement between the three countries (United States, Canada and Mexico) to edit or change the agreement in any way.”

Ruiz added: “We hope it is a success and that the people that come along get something out of it in planning for their future business and growth.”

Brownsville City Manager Charlie Cabler and Brownsville Metropolitan Planning Organization Deputy Director Alfonso Vallejo will be among the featured speakers at the symposium. Cabler said the event will feature various presentations from participating entities regarding their five-year plans in relation to trade and growth – for the purpose of encouraging information-sharing among stakeholders.

“On behalf of the City of Brownsville, I am honored that our great city was selected as the location for the 2017 International Trade Symposium,” Cabler told the Rio Grande Guardian. “As an economic leader in our region we are proud to take part in the 2017 International Trade Symposium as it presents significant opportunity to bring together industry and governmental leaders to discuss and plan the future of our growing economy.”

The 2017 International Trade Symposium is to be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, 2017, at the Brownsville Event Center, 1 Events Center Blvd. in Brownsville.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows a groundbreaking ceremony for a new cold storage inspection facility at the Free Trade Bridge at Los Indios. It was dedicated on March 24, 2017. (Photo: Apolonio Sandoval, Jr./Rio Grande Guardian)