Many ports of entry were built decades ago, before NAFTA and explosive population growth on both sides of the U.S-Mexico border. While land ports of entry between the two nations were first envisioned to process the legitimate crossing of people, goods and services across the border, security has taken an overwhelmingly dominant role since 9/11, hampering the ability of agencies to efficiently manage border traffic.

Delays at the border, said Ronald Scruggs, president of Triumph Group Mexico, are one of the biggest challenges for corporations and a major drag on competitiveness.

Rick Van Schoik, Director of NACTS, repeatedly emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships, which feature "the mutual benefits of harnessing the private sector’s financial and logistical capacity and applying it to the challenge of facilitating trade.”

Erik Lee, Associate Director of NACTS, said they hosted the event to bring people together from across the political and economic spectrum from both sides of the border to discuss successes and form solutions so that cross border trade can be fully realized.

“Mexico is an economic powerhouse, currently growing more than twice as fast as we are,” said Lee. “Mexicans are in an even better position to buy U.S. products. What is good for Mexico’s economy is, in the big picture, good for job creation in the United States.”

Lee said the United States and Mexico are at a critical political and economic crossroads. With economic powerhouse China moving full steam ahead, it is more important than ever for the U.S., Mexico and Canada to join economic forces.

Those attending the conference included Congressman Henry Cuellar, U.S. House of Representatives; Congressman Raul Grijalva, U.S. House of Representatives; Congressman Sylvester Reyes, U.S. House of Representatives; Susana Martinez, Governor of the State of New Mexico, Chair, U.S.-Mexico Border Governors Conference; Arnulfo Valdivia Machuca,  President-Elect Enrique Peña Nieto Transition Team; Greg Stanton, Mayor of the City of Phoenix; Jerry Sanders, Mayor of the City of San Diego and Chair, U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Alliance;  John Cook, Mayor of the City of El Paso; Carlos Bustamante, Mayor, City of Tijuana; Arturo Garino, Mayor of the City of Nogales ; Scott Smith, Mayor of the City of Mesa;  and Gerónimo Gutierrez, Managing Director, North American Development Bank.

The North American Center for Transborder Studies (NACTS) at Arizona State University is a university-based public policy analysis and advisory group that collaborates with key partners to improve North American cooperation and prosperity. NACTS researches and reports on North American issues and provides specific information, analysis and recommendations to public, private and non-profit groups for better-informed decisions.