BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Border cities need to prepare for the new free trade agreement, USMCA, especially on the fields of technology, said an economist at a forum hosted by Texas Southmost College.

The program was titled: USMCA Forum: The Impact on the Texas-U.S. & Mexico Economies. Jesus Cañas, an El Paso-based senior business economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, was the keynote speaker.

Jesus Cañas

“The border now must be prepared for the new type of trade that will exist. For example, this digital commerce. Are we ready? Do we have the tools needed?,” asked Cañas.

“A clear example is that now, a large percentage of the cars have to do with software and we here are not doing what we have to do in order to be prepared to produce software or, for example, to produce batteries for electronic cars.”

A few decades back, more than 50,000 jobs were lost in Texas with 45 percent of these lost on the Texas-Mexico border, Cañas reported. McAllen lost a thousand jobs while Brownsville lost 3,000 when the North American Free Trade Agreement started, according to the presentation of the keynote speaker.

However, when the market grew, thanks to the investments of foreign companies, 8,000 jobs were added in McAllen and 4,000 in Brownsville, according to Cañas’ research.

“The frontier was able to assimilate the changes and prepare and take advantage of the new opportunities. Now, a similar situation arises. I think the border is not so neglected, it’s a bit more alert now, but even so, I feel we need to see forward,” explained the senior business economist.

The forum was held at the Texas Southmost College, with students from various universities in Tamaulipas attending, including Universidad Tecnológica de Tamaulipas Norte Reynosa and Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Reynosa.

Participants in a panel discussion invited the students to work together.

“In my opinion we have this time to work together, companies, schools, communities to prepare for the change that is being presented and if we do not do it at the appropriate time, we will lose many opportunities,” said Mario Lozoya, executive director of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation.

“It is a change that is going to happen and we have to take advantage of this change. This is the opportunity that presents itself. In the last decades, we have not in my opinion, taken advantage of an opportunity in a binational way.”

Another panelist invited the students present to take advantage of the information that was given at the forum.

“I hope you take advantage of this brief panel. Some of you, in the future will have to represent us and continue to have that commercial interaction between Mexico, United States and Canada,” said Francisco Miguel Galvan, bilateral representative for the State of Tamaulipas.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr., also spoke at the forum.

“Here in South Texas, as along in the border, the most important resources are people. The average age of the people here in South Texas, along the border, I believe half of the people are 26 and younger,” said the county judge.

“We have to make sure that we are providing them with the skills and workforce training.”