NAFTA’s future top concern of border mayors gathering

7/26/2017 The San Diego Tribune

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San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, right, and Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum, left, together in Tijuana last March following the signing of an agreement pledging their two cities to continued collaboration. (Alejandro Tamayo / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

A gathering of mayors from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border launches Wednesday evening in San Diego, with one issue foremost on the agenda: the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The event, hosted jointly by the mayors of San Diego and Tijuana, aims to raise the profile of communities along the length of the 1,989-mile border at a critical juncture in the U.S.-Mexico relationship. The group plans a unified message in support of free trade, hoping it will be heard by the high-level federal negotiators leading the NAFTA talks.

“This is a real opportunity to reinvigorate the cities’ roles, on an international stage,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said in a City Hall interview this week. “It is my intent for our region to be a leader in these discussions.”

This week’s gathering marks the sixth meeting of the U.S-Mexico Border Mayors Association since its founding in 2011 in El Paso. A total of 17 mayors had confirmed attendance as of Monday — five from Mexico, 12 from the United States — but organizers were counting on some late registrations.

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