Arizona moves to expand southbound trade with Mexico

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Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport bringing Mexican customs officials to inspect shipments at air-cargo hub

PHOENIX (Border Report) — When Americans order a product online, they take it for granted it’ll get to them on time. But when Mexican residents order merchandise from a U.S. company, they traditionally face weeklong waits for Mexican customs to clear the package.

That is about to change as an Arizona airport becomes the first in the United States to pre-clear items shipped to anywhere in Mexico. Under the SkyBridge Arizona project, Mexican customs inspectors will be based at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and approve items for immediate delivery to any Mexican city, Arizona officials say.

The implications of the program go well beyond young Mexican professionals being able to receive electronic gadgets before their popularity fades, airport officials told BorderReport.Com.

“This includes companies like Amazon and eBay but also companies and manufacturers that are looking to do business in Mexico. It’ll fast-track shipments to their final destinations and create a secure delivery system because Customs will be tracking those packages,” said Bill Jabjiniak, director of economic development for the City of Mesa, Arizona.

This opens a new window of opportunity for American companies to expand sales to Mexico using a program which so far is unique to this suburban Phoenix airport, he said.

“It makes it so much easier for those companies to navigate the whole customs process. You think the aerospace companies and the smaller suppliers, if they can deliver faster and more securely, it’s easy for these companies to grow and grow,” he added.

The SkyBridge project, which is spearheaded by Mexican entrepreneurs and their U.S. partners, breaks ground in October. City of Mesa officials expect it to create 7,000 direct jobs and an additional 10,000 indirect jobs down the road. Many jobs would be based out of new businesses and warehouses at the airport’s 350-acre business park, which is next Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus.

“We expect that by 2025, we’ll capture 5 percent of the Southwest export market to Mexico. Think about it, that’s only six years away,” Jabjiniak said.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey earlier expressed his support for a project that will augment the standing of his state as one of Mexico’s biggest trading partners.

“Arizona has forged an incredible relationship with our friends and neighbors in Mexico, and we’re very proud of this latest collaboration to enhance international trade and create more jobs for Arizonans,” the governor said in an earlier statement about the project. “Historic agreements signed with United States Customs and Border Protection, Mexico’s Administracion General de Aduanas and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport creates America’s first and only inland international air logistics and processing hub with Mexico.”

His office called the new international air cargo binational inspection hub a “gamechanger” that’s bound to transform a regional airport into an economic trade engine.

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The mission of is to provide real-time delivery of the untold local stories about people living, working and migrating along the U.S. border with Mexico. The information is gathered by experienced and trusted Nexstar Media Group journalists hired specifically to cover the border.