With expanding NAFTA trade, increasing economic globalization, and rising significance of border location, the identity of the Nogales, Arizona, community has been profoundly challenged. For the last three decades Nogales grapples with questions like: What role does Nogales play in this increasing economic relationship between Arizona and Sonora, and within the entire North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) region at large? But most of all, the question arises as to how to capitalize on all those developments – increasing trade and global connectivity – to enhance the community’s growth while improving the quality of life. Those who remember Nogales 30 years ago must admit that the city and its surrounding areas have experienced tremendous physical development. Statistical data, however, consistently indicate that the city and county lag behind the national and state’s growth trends suggesting an intricate combination of local and global factors at play.
The purpose of this analysis is to provide quantitative measures of Nogales/Santa Cruz County economy in the context of U.S.-Mexico trade relationships. More specifically, the objective is to identify and provide measures of existing bi-national crossborder linkages and uncover those areas where the Nogales community could participate more actively and take advantage of its geographical location.
The focus of the analysis is on the fresh produce industry and maquiladora related trade. These activities constitute the core of bi-national trade related economy. The fresh produce industry developed around a long tradition of importation of fresh produce from Mexico’s states of Sonora and Sinaloa; maquiladora related trade activities are an outgrowth of the expansion of a production-sharing model, known in Mexico as the maquiladora sector since the mid-1960s.