JP Morgan Chase provides $100K grant boost local business exports to Mexico

Days after officials reached one of the most ambitious international trade deals in history, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton on Thursday unveiled a plan that aims to make metro Phoenix a major player in foreign trade.

JPMorgan Chase awarded the Metro Phoenix Export Alliance a $100,000 grant to help implement the region’s new plan, which encourages small and midsize businesses to export goods and services to Mexico, Arizona’s largest trading partner. The initiative includes educational workshops and outreach programs.

For many local companies, the cost logistics of exporting can be daunting, said Curtis Reed, the Arizona market manager for JP Morgan Chase.

But the alliance – a public-private partnership that includes Freeport McMoRan and Intel Corp. – will offer support programs to help companies strategically plan using market data and information.

“We’re going to help create resources for businesses to learn how to export,” Reed said. “The ultimate outcome and expectation is to create jobs.”

In 2013, metro Phoenix exports supported 69,680 jobs, according to data from the U.S. International Trade Administration.

Stanton said he wants to see Phoenix companies double their trade with Mexico by 2020 and double export output by 2025.

“Anyone looking at a map would believe that we should already be a leader in international trade,” Stanton said. “Our geography here in Phoenix is a distinct strategic advantage. Phoenix connects the Americas.”

There is potential for the region to tap into a growing global economy across multiple continents, but particularly in South America, officials said.

“The focus of exports is the future of our market position,” said Chris Camacho, CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

On Monday, the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations, including Chile, Mexico and Peru, reached an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement was passed in 1993.

The White House on Monday released a report detailing plans to reduce taxes and regulations on American manufacturers and farmers. Congress won’t vote on the trade agreement until 2016 at the earliest.

Arizona is projected to generate $12.9 billion in exports to trade partners and support 93,354 jobs if the countries implement the plan, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. The partnership also would reduce 18,000 tariffs and cut taxes on two chief Arizona exports – copper wire and lemons – by 25 percent.

Supporters of the trade agreement said small companies like AGM Container Controls Inc. of Tucson would directly benefit from lower tariffs, as exports to nations like Canada, Mexico, Japan and several others make up 10 percent of the manufacturer’s sales, according to the document.

On Tuesday, Stanton led a delegation of Arizona mayors in Mexico and signed a memorandum of understanding with Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera Espinosa to forge an economic partnership between the two cities.

That agreement, Stanton said on Thursday, reflected his administration’s desire for a close working relationship with Mexico that has been difficult to attain because of political tensions.

“The business community in Mexico has been very receptive to our efforts,” Stanton said.