San Diego-Tijuana Mayors Tout Economic Cooperation

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and recently elected Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum said they will sign an agreement soon similar to the one Faulconer and Tijuana’s previous mayor created, outlining how the cities will work together to strengthen economic ties in what the mayor called an economic mega-region.

Flanked by U.S. and Mexico flags, the mayors deflected questions about whether their coming agreement is a direct response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s calls to build a border wall and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. The mayors said they wanted to share their story of what’s working.

“We can’t control what happens outside our cities, but I know this: We will continue our story of collaboration, our story of friendship, and we will continue working together for the prosperity of our people,” Faulconer said.

Gastelum said that though the two cities are separated by an international border, they are “united by our common goal to bring our cities prosperity.”

City officials and department directors meet bimonthly to implement the memorandum of understanding between the cities, Faulconer said. He added that industries on both sides of the border, particularly biotechnology, have prospered through cross-border commerce.

The San Diego-Tijuana region is the largest hub of medical-device manufacturing in the world, Faulconer said, and devices sometimes cross the border multiple times during the manufacturing process.

Business leaders from both sides of the border cited other thriving aspects of the industry, such as Tijuana’s $600 million medical-tourism sector.

Faulconer, a Republican, was re-elected in a landslide last year in largely Democratic San Diego. Throughout his tenure as mayor, he’s highlighted the importance of binational cooperation in raising the region’s reputation as an example for cross-border economic growth.

Former San Diego mayor and local Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Jerry Sanders said at the news conference that the California-Baja California region enjoys a $230 billion economy, “thanks to NAFTA.”