As we count down the time until Election Day in increments of hours rather than weeks or days, those of us who have a stake in our relationship with Canada and Mexico have the opportunity on Tuesday to cast a vote for the border.
Let’s support candidates who view our communities’ proximity to an international border as an asset, rather than a liability. Our representatives at all levels of government should view our borders as our gateways to the world economy, not places to score cheap political points over divisive issues.
The U.S.-Mexico and the U.S.-Canada borders are each home to over $2 billion worth of trade every day. The Ambassador Bridge, connecting Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario alone sees $500 million worth of trade cross daily.
These aren’t just trucks crossing back and forth, moving widgets from warehouse to warehouse. Our borders are where 21st Century, just-in-time manufacturing and logistics happen, supporting millions of jobs. And in my conversations with the Canadian and Mexican government at all levels, they get it!
When we vote for the border, we vote for candidates who view our borders as the lynchpin to increasing North American competitiveness and job growth.
The luster of Asian manufacturing is beginning to fade, as manufacturers faced with steep fuel prices, growing labor costs and concerns over quality control, are looking to invest closer to home – especially as Mexico is becoming the new China. But diverting that manufacturing to North America and the jobs that come with them becomes a much more realistic prospect when we are able to design a cross-border trade framework that removes duplicative customs processes and works with business to get products to market as fast as possible.
Voting for the border means supporting candidates who view increased investment in our border agencies and port infrastructure as a necessity, not a luxury. Devoting resources to our borders can be the difference between a growing economy attracting investment from around the world while ensuring our security, and an economy that limps along with a reputation for border delays and security lapses.
Border security is critical to our entire nation. Without the confidence that our borders are secure, much of the benefits of trade with our neighbors get drowned out. But let’s support candidates who know that security and trade facilitation aren’t either/or propositions: We can, and must have both. More resources on the border mean increased security and increased facilitation. With improved trusted shipper programs between government and business, our security agencies can know more about who and what is in the supply chain, while speeding the processing and passage of approved cargo across our borders.
Finally, when we vote for the border, we vote for candidates who know that trade is critically important to our nation’s standing in the world. A United States with a growing economy is a country that is seeking out new markets for our goods and services, while at the same time, tearing down tariff and non-tariff barriers that ultimately hurt consumers. With all the negative press the border gets because of various incendiary issues, let’s for once focus on the positives the border brings to our economy.
So if on Tuesday you’re struggling between two qualified candidates, there’s a way to make up your mind: Vote for the border.
Nelson Balido is the managing principal at Balido and Associates, chairman of the Border Commerce and Security Council, and former member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Follow him on Twitter: @nelsonbalido