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Thursday, March 31, 2005 | Opportunities, obstacles and suggestions for cooperative economic and cultural development of the San Diego/Tijuana Region were the topics of a seven-hour program which featured 24 experts at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s fourth annual Mexico Economic Review and Outlook conference held in San Diego earlier this month.

New business-friendly legal changes that were presented included:

Attendees came from Mexican and American business, government, nonprofit organizations and universities.

Attorneys from Tijuana and San Diego discussed differences in the Mexican civil law system requiring legal advice concerning use of notaries and the necessity of filing of documents with a public registry, statutes which are less susceptible to judicial interpretation and personal criminal responsibility for representatives of corporations which engage in illegal actions.

Representatives from Mexican software development, medical device manufacturing, medical services and automobile manufacturing firms described the prospects and problems in these “emerging bi-national industries for the 21st Century.” A management-friendly, anti-union and young work force, which makes Mexico economically attractive to manufacturers, was a factor in bringing a Toyota plant to Tijuana.

Growth in population and economic activity along the southwestern border of the United States with northern Mexico has some problems. These include:

The current Mexican political system, which is designed to serve politicians rather than the people, was seen as a possible roadblock to reform of labor, energy and fiscal laws, all of which are viewed as necessary for development. On the other side, the decreasing influence of Mexican political parties, as well as a young work force that is large and votes, are regarded as favorable to political reform, which is positive for a good economy.

The objectives of merging San Diego and Tijuana into a single region and becoming stronger by integration are both short- and long-term goals for economic development. The unique binational effort to bring the Olympic games to the region, and efforts to develop the region’s combined port facilities said to be the third largest in the world, are examples of forward looking joint projects which can be achieved by cooperation. Great strides in crossborder development in the 10 years since enactment of the North American Free Trade Act have been made.

The program concluded with an appeal by Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon for San Diegans to spend more time in Tijuana which he described as “home” to Californians.

Leonard Krouner is a San Diego-based consultant, writer and professional in dispute settlement who can be reached at (858)277-5323.

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