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McALLEN, RGV – Chamber of Commerce representatives from Texas and Tamaulipas, as well as local and state officials, met Thursday morning, and through a five points strategy established their official position on defending the border that unites them.

The main goal is to fight against any negative consequences created by President Donald Trump’s executive order to speed up the construction of a border wall, the possibility of an import tax on Mexican goods, and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The group said it is vital to transform any doubt into certainty for potential investors.

The five points generated after the meeting were the following:

●    Strengthen the binational bonds through agreements between the chambers and authorities
●    Dissemination and positive promotion of information on both sides of the border
●    More frequent binational meetings
●    The Government of Tamaulipas should participate in an upcoming Rio South Texas Economic Council meeting being organized in the Rio Grande Valley
●    Emphasize the importance of the border relationship in Washington, D.C., and Mexico City.

During a press conference, leaders from both sides of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo said the respective governments of the United States and Mexico countries need to understand the situation along the border which is strengthened not only by the commercial area, but also by its shared culture and family ties.

“Investors are looking for certainty, they want to know what are the rules in the game. We are coming together, all the chambers and cities, because we are one region,” Carlos Talancon Ostos, secretary of economic development for Tamaulipas said.

“There is a liaison between Texas and Tamaulipas that is bigger than commerce, and that is the family liaisons. I believe this is what will keep us united and will make it possible to continue with the existent union between Texas and Tamaulipas.”

It was Julio Almanza Armas, president for FeCaNaCo in Tamaulipas, who explained the importance of drafting a common agenda which will include the promotion that can be made between all entities involved.

“It is very important to avoid promoting border cities by their own, on the Mexican or U.S. side. We need to do it through a common agenda that will allow us to do a joint promotion of the region,” Almanza Armas said. “We are one region and we will work considering that.”

He added the importance of showing the rest of both countries and the world in general that in this border region providers are united by their culture, commercial and social status, and not the opposite.

Enrique Solana Sentíes, president of CONCANACO SERVYTUR, agreed on these comments and added that the Tamaulipas and Texas reality is that they are sister states because their families coexist and live in both sides of the border.

“(Tamaulipas and Texas) have a constant and permanent relationship which is not quite perfectly understandable where the decisions are made – Washington and México City,” Solana Senties said.

He mentioned that on Wednesday, he participated in a meeting along with 70 business organizations in Mexico City. The meeting was presided by President Enrique Peña Nieto. They decided to begin a 90-day analysis period to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“On the Mexican side we are making sure the NAFTA revision is sustained in a win-win relationship, so at the end we will find an improved and deeper agreement with much more competitiveness for both countries,” Solana Senties said.

He added that even though there are goals to improve the commercial treaty, reality is the trade exchange that is done specifically on the border that is not widely noticed and is not even on the political agendas of Washington and Mexico City.

“We are proposing to the federal government to consider the border as a preferential zone, which has to be acknowledged when talking about gas prices,” Solana Senties said. Gas prices have soared in Mexico in recent months, causing many gas stations to shut their doors. “The gas prices topic is just one example of all that can be generated if we are not sensible enough about what’s going on at the border between both countries,” Solana Senties said.

According to data from CONCANACO SERVYTUR every year around 32 million U.S. tourists visit Mexico, which is a clear indicator that the tourism sector is in good shape between both countries, Solana Senties explained.

He concluded by stating that “these issues are not going to be resolved with a wall, but with bridges, education, and culture.”

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series on the Rio Grande Valley-Tamaulipas chambers of commerce meeting held at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce offices on Thursday, February 10, 2017. Click here for Part One. Part Three, featuring the views of Valley leaders, will be published in Saturday’s editions. Photos by Stephanie Jara.