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Ann Bacher, the minister counselor for commercial affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, got a rude introduction this week to some of the border-crossing problems in the San Diego-Tijuana region. It took her three hours and forty-five minutes to cross at the Otay Mesa port of entry Monday afternoon. She said the new Ready Lanes that allow travelers with RFID (radio frequency IDs) to cross more rapidly appeared to have reduced the number of lanes for the average traveler. Previous mention of Ready Lanes. She said the experience was a real eye opener that helped her better understand the problems companies she is charged to help can face crossing the border.
Bacher, speaking at the North American Competitiveness Conference in San Diego put on by the Mexico Business Center at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, also said that the two-person U.S. commercial office in Tijuana was closing due to budgetary reasons. She said her office was looking into the possible formation of a "public-private partnership to fill that gap."
She said the U.S. Commercial Service has 109 offices in the U.S., including one in San Diego. She said there are 10 officers and 40 local staff in Mexico.
Earlier, the U.S. consul in Tijuana, Steven Kashkett, said the time it takes to cross the border is a major issue for businesses. "There's constant problems with crossing the border. If you have to wait an hour, two hours, three hours, any business person will say, that's simply not sustainable," he said.
He said his crossing on Tuesday was his 1,000th, "something like that," and fortunately was very quick.
Kashkett called it a 19th Century border, while saying both the United States and Mexico are "serious about creating a 21st century border." Mayor improvements are under way on both sides. Still, Kashkett noted that a "phenomenally tight" federal budget is throwing roadblocks in the plans. He said 50,000 to 60,000 vehicles cross the border daily, along with 25,000 pedestrians. Story on other border improvements.
Marcy Grossman, the deputy consul general for Canada in Los Angeles, noted that U.S.-Canada trade has created 8 million jobs in the U.S. and said Canada-Mexico trade is $27 billion.
She also said, "We are very bullish on California," saying there were 305 Canadian-owned businesses in the state.
She noted that the Canadian-based clean tech company REGEN energy, which makes a device that helps owners of large buildings save a bundle on their energy costs, was opening an office in San Diego.
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The "North American Competitiveness Conference: Sustainable Jobs Creation for a Continent of Innovation" was held at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice and the University of San Diego on Tuesday. The title sponsor was SDG&E. About 280 were in attendance. It was organized by James Clark, director general of the Mexico Business Center at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. Clark recently was profiled in Frontera newspaper.