Vol. XVIII, No. 4
Summer, 1980

Ambos Nogales: 'Un Lugar Muy Especial'

Because the Sonora and Arizona twin cities of Nogales share so much common ground, people on both sides of this large international community came long ago to know it by a common name: they dubbed it Ambos Nogales -- loosely, "both Nogaleses."

The area is "un lugar muy especial" -- a very special place -- for a lot of different reasons. Being located on the international boundary that separates the United States and Mexico makes the area more intensely bilingual than many other areas of Arizona. The people share a common heritage, background and ancestry.

But beyond this obvious common ground, the Nogales area, because of its location, occupies a special niche among the concerns and the economics that have state, national and even international impact.

There are few parts of the United States where decisions in either Washington or Mexico City can and do affect two communities in two countries with such swiftness. A policy change, a trade decision, immigration law -- can and do have immediate impact on thousands of people who live not just on one side of the border, but on both sides.

It is a special place, with special problems. And special situations frequently deserve special attention.

One good example of this special status is the interlocking and wide impact of trade and economic development in the Nogales area. A healthy Santa Cruz County goes far beyond Southern Arizona.
 

* Produce imports mean a good market for Mexican growers, and Mexico benefits.
* Produce imports mean jobs for Santa Cruz County, and that's good for Nogales and for Arizona.
* Produce imports help hold prices down for the American consumer. And that's good news for the whole country.
* The Twin Plants concept means capital investment on both sides of the border. Again, Arizona and U.S. business both benefit; so does Sonora.
* In the end, both of these developments mean more jobs in both counties.
Both of these industries continue to have my earnest support. They make the best kind of economic sense, and both, in direct and indirect ways, address international, national, state and local concerns: jobs, the economy, the price of produce in the United States, and, in a small way, immigration.

'The Tomato War'

For some time, Santa Cruz County has found itself the unwitting target of a "Tomato War" -- a conflict created and "exported" by the State of Florida in an attempt to impose packing standards on Mexican produce that Florida has imposed on its own growers.

Had Florida succeeded in this "war" -- and the battles have been close -- the impact on the produce industry in Santa Cruz County would have been disastrous.

The impact beyond would have meant higher produce prices for American consumers in general, and lost jobs in Mexico and the United States.

Local officials estimate that the produce industry, in wholesale terms, generates between $150 million and $180 million each year. At the local level, $20 million is paid each year in U.S. Customs duties just at the Nogales border station. At least 600 Santa Cruz County residents depend directly on the produce industry for their jobs, and hundreds more owe their employment indirectly to the produce industry. It is an industry with gigantic economic effects.

That's why I asked the Agriculture Subcommittee on Domestic Marketing not to approve a bill back in 1977 that would have imposed the Florida packing rules on Mexican tomatoes. The bill died.

That's why I went to bat in October, 1979, when the Treasury Department was asked to investigate Florida's charges that Mexican vegetables were being "dumped" on the American market at deliberately low prices. Treasury ruled against Florida.

That's why I delivered a letter straight to the President last year, which said in part:

"There is no sinister attempt here by Mexican growers to dominate the American market, no attempt


 
to ruin the Florida producers. Indeed, the Florida industry (which uses the same marketing practices as does the Mexican industry) is as healthy as ever. It makes little sense to apply interpretations of law which run contrary to common sense (and) penalize foreign growers for actions which parallel those of domestic producers . . . "

And last May, the Department of Commerce International Trade Administration made a final determination: vegetables from Mexico, reported the agency, are not being sold at less than fair value.

Some one once said that they believed that "the last time was really the last time" -- and one can hope that this most recent "last time" truly was that, as far as the "Tomato War" is concerned.

It makes good sense all around to encourage this industry. To that end, we have been successful. And if the industry faces challenges in the future, we'll go to the wire again -- together.

Twin Plants

What works well for one part of the country may not work well for another -- but if something does work well somewhere, and if that something helps, even in a small way, to allay larger concerns, and if it can hold the promise of playing a larger role, then it deserves encouragement.

The Twin Plants concept is something that deserves support and encouragement.

Simply, the Twin Plants concept involves American industry shipping product components across the international boundary, where they are assembled and then shipped back to the United States for transport to retail markets.

Just as the produce industry provides jobs on both sides of the border, so does the Twin Plants program. There are new jobs in the United States and new jobs in Mexico. Both countries are helped, two economies are boosted.

Since the Twin Plants operation began in the Nogales area in 1970, 55 companies have opened operations there.

Today, Twin Plants officials estimate that the operation is responsible for 10 percent of all employment in the Nogales border region.

Beyond that, officials further estimate that for every job created in Mexico in the Twin Plants operation, 2.5 more Americans are put to work somewhere in the United States, through the various shipping and retail facets necessary to carry the finished products to consumers.

And more jobs are indirectly related to the Twin Plants setup in the service industry of Nogales, Arizona.

These dollars don't stop turning over. They also mean increased bank deposits, increased local and state sales taxes, improved local retail sales and an all-around economically health community.

The kind of federal legislation that has boosted Santa Cruz County's produce industry and Twin Plants program is the best kind of help -- the kid that promotes unrestricted trade. That insures that people in Santa Cruz County can push ahead with industries that make sense for their part of the country.

I want to continue to do my part to see that federal laws help, and not hinder, that kind of economic development.


Previous Report: Summer, 1980 (Pinal Co.) -- Copper and the Economy


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