SANTA TERESA –International trade has never been more important to New Mexico and nobody knows this better than Jerry Pacheco, president of the Border Industrial Association.
“This is an exciting place,” said Pacheco sitting in a conference room in his office building surrounded by four industrial parks near the bustling Santa Teresa border crossing.
Pacheco has played a key role in expanding cross-border trade in New Mexico for more than 25 years. He’ll share his insights Friday at the UNM Continuing Education Auditorium. His talk, “New Mexico’s Booming Trade with Mexico – A view from the Border,”is part of the Albuquerque International Association’s lecture series.
Pacheco, a native New Mexican, started working on border affairs after graduating from UNM. He was a “kid out of college” when he joined Gov. Bruce King’s international team in 1991 and started as a “gofer.”
The experience gave Pacheco a front row seat in cross border negotiations at a time when New Mexico was pushing to open a new port of entry. He was an early believer in Santa Teresa.
“Fifteen years ago I felt like John the Baptist, like a crazy man out in the middle desert with a camel hair coat. And I’m saying, ‘Mexico’s the future. Mexico’s the future’ And nobody would listen,” said Pacheco.
Goods going through the Santa Teresa border crossing now account for more than half of all global trade for New Mexico, according to the Department of Commerce. The region is poised to surpass Albuquerque metro area as exports from Intel decline and trade with Mexico ramps up.
The Santa Teresa crossing is among the top five ports of entry on the Mexican border in terms of exports, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures cited by Pacheco.
“Our natural resource is our proximity to Mexico and that huge industrial base on the other side of the border and we’re mining that for our own good for the state,” said Pacheco.
Santa Teresa is home to 60 companies that employ 5,000 people.
New Mexico’s trade with Mexico is growing, at the same time the Trump administration is threatening to scrap NAFTA if efforts to renegotiate the trade pact fail. The administration has also imposed a series of tariffs on a range of products from NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada. The administration’s biggest target for tariff’s is China.
Pacheco will discuss the impact of the Trump’s tough trade policies on New Mexico. He hopes his lecture will help New Mexicans who don’t live on the border understand how trade with Mexico impacts the entire state.
“That country on the other side of the border is not a problem for us. It’s an ally for us. It’s a friend. It’s our future,” said Pacheco.
If you go
What: NM’s Booming Trade with Mexico: A View from the Border
Who: Jerry Pacheco, president Border Industrial Association
When: Friday, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: UNM Continuing Education Conference Center, 1634 University Blvd NE
How much: $15/AIA members; $20/non-members; students (under 30) with ID – free