California has been clear in its rejection of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on undocumented immigrants and the border wall, but the state also stands to lose a lot if the U.S. pulls out of the North American Free Trade Agreement – another Trump campaign promise.
San Diego Sen. Ben Hueso held an informational hearing Tuesday on California-Mexico relations, focusing on NAFTA and trade. Speaker after speaker reinforced how much of Californians’ economy is tied to Mexico.
“There’s been lots of rhetoric in the community out there in which people have begun to question the efficacy or the effectiveness of NAFTA to the U.S. and in particular, we’re concerned with the California economy,” said Hueso at the hearing.
Mexico is California’s largest export market. In 2016, trade between California and Mexico surpassed $71 billion. Upwards of 600,000 jobs in California are dependent on free trade with Mexico – the highest number of any state in the U.S.
San Diego came up several times during the hearing. The second-largest export product from California to Mexico is solar turbines – an industry concentrated in Southern California, according to data presented by Paola Avila, vice president of binational international business affairs at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Avila said Taylor Guitars, a San Diego company, started a new brand of lower-end guitars that could be produced more cheaply in Tecate after NAFTA. The new product helped the company expand and created jobs in Mexico and California, she said.