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North American cities integrate their economies to remain globally competitive

Trade conference focuses on the gains of NAFTA, future opportunities

To effectively compete with the growing influence of Asian manufacturers, cities within the United States, Mexico and Canada must find new ways to further reduce the costs of doing business together, said Gerónimo Gutierrez Fernandez, Mexican undersecretary for North America, at an international trade conference in Kansas City Friday.

Gutierrez and Manitoba, Canada Premier Gary Doer and Missouri U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond were the keynote speakers at the first-ever North America Works Conference organized by the City of Kansas City, Mo., Office of International Affairs and Trade. Hundreds of politicians, trade policy diplomats and business people gathered here for two days to discuss how the three countries can best expand entrepreneurial links among North American cities and their intercontinental transportation corridors.

"This is a dynamic economic region,” Gutierrez said. “However, we have to take actions to be more competitive.”

“We have to take the politics and disputes out of trade and put the economics back in,” Doer said.

The conference’s prevailing theme was that North American cities must integrate their economies to effectively compete in the existing global economy. As part of that integration, effective trade can only operate within new commerce distribution routes.

“There is no more room to put more things on existing networks,” said Dr. Stephan Blank, director of the PanAmerican Partnership for Business Education at New York’s Pace University. “The current system is pushed to the limit.”

Congestion and capacity issues at major ports of entry in Los Angeles and New York have spawned the creation of a new trade corridor extending from the deepwater Pacific seaports of Mexico; and moving goods by train to Kansas City, which is creating an inland multi-modal distribution hub to distribute cargo containers to Canada and other parts of the United States.

“With this international trade corridor we have the opportunity to look for major economic gains for all three countries,” Bond said during the conference’s opening luncheon Thursday. "This is a time when the opportunities are all global opportunities.”

Other dignitaries who attended the conference were Anne Charles, the Canadian consul general to Chicago; Ron Lemieux, minister of transportation in Manitoba, Canada; and former Mexican ambassador James Jones.

At the conference, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz signed a cooperative agreement with Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Kay Barnes. That agreement, similar to others signed previously with Mexican counterparts, allows the cities to promote bi-lateral commerce and coordinate their international economic development plans.

For the past five years, Kansas City has worked to coordinate its internal efforts to pursue international trade opportunities, attract foreign investment and raise the city’s profile as an international business distribution hub as part of an emerging North American trade corridor.

While pursuing its agenda, the City’s Office of International Affairs and Trade also is helping promote the creation of the first-ever Mexican custom facility on United States soil. Officials said the two countries are close to reaching an agreement; the City of Kansas City, Mo., has already appropriated approximately $2.5 million to have the facility built. Kansas City’s future plans include incorporating additional strategic partnerships with other Canadian provinces and cities.

For more information, visit, or contact the City's Office of International Affairs and Trade, (816) 513-3521; (816) 513-3524 (fax); or

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