Governor Newsom and Governors from Baja California States Re-Establish “Commission of the Californias”

SAN DIEGO – Governor Gavin Newsom joined Baja California Norte Governor Jaime Bonilla Valdez and Baja California Sur Governor Carlos Mendoza Davis today to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reestablishing the Commission of the Californias. The MOU creates a forum to share information around common issues and discuss the development of common solutions.

“Today, as many seek to divide us, the interconnection between our states is more important than ever,” said Governor Newsom. “This MOU will create a forum to open doors for business and cultural exchanges within a region whose economies, histories, and conventions are inseparable. They will strengthen existing connections and grow new ones.”

Left to right: Governor Mendoza, Governor Newsom and Governor Bonilla sign MOU.

California and the Baja region have one of the busiest border crossings in the world. In 2018, 1.4 million trucks, 32 million personal vehicles, and almost 1 million containers crossed the border between Baja California and California. Between Otay Mesa and Calexico, the border is California’s fourth biggest goods entry point. Only the San Pedro Bay ports and LAX are larger. $41 billion worth of imports passed through the border and arrived in California in 2018. Top imports include electric machinery, vehicles and medical instruments.

In 2018, over $24 billion dollars of exports flowed through Calexico and Otay Mesa ports into Baja California. Top exports include electric machinery, heavy machinery, plastics, and vehicles. Agricultural trade has also become a staple between the two regions. The border handled over $1.8 billion worth of agricultural products flowing into Mexico and another $3.6 billion of agricultural products into California, including over $2 billion of vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

Tourism is also an economic driver for the regions. Mexico is California’s number one international market, with daily flights from all over California to Los Cabos International Airport and other destinations on the Baja peninsula. Each week, there are 588 non-stop flights between California and Mexico.

Participating states intend to share information about common areas of interest, including energy and the environment, transportation and infrastructure, emergency preparedness and response, economic development and tourism, agriculture, and public health.

Participating states and their respective staff will carry out activities in the MOU and will meet at least once a year.

Earlier this year, the Governor’s Representative for Trade and International Affairs, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, led a delegation to Mexico City to establish California’s trade and services desk at the University of California’s Casa de California. The commitment today builds on that important work.

“We are very excited to participate in this collaborative agreement between the three Californias,” said Baja California Norte Governor Jaime Bonilla Valdez. “It is impossible to think of Baja California without considering our north and south neighbors as one region. Our states are border neighbors, naturally there’s an intimate economic and cultural interaction beyond borders. We hope that this partnership will develop the wellbeing of our citizens and residents.”

“The Californias are an area that historically we have maintained cultural and commercial ties. The territorial separation that we lived 171 years ago was not an impediment for Californians to increase our relationships,” said Baja California Sur Governor Carlos Mendoza Davis. “We share origin, and today we share a vision of the future. So the installation of this Commission is a great step that we take in the area of regional integration, cooperation and the search for solutions to common problems. The Californians have challenges in terms of environment and energy, infrastructure and transportation, civil protection, economic development and tourism, agriculture and public health. I emphasize that the foundations of the Commission are collaboration, the exchange of experiences, and above all the will; willingness to build agreements, and understanding.”

The text of the MOU can be found here.