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PHOENIX -- Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton met with a new task force designed to help promote trade, investments and tourism with Mexico on Wednesday.

"The whole point of it is to come up with very specific ideas and strategy about how the city of Phoenix can increase our economic position relative to Mexico," Stanton said. "We know that our economy and the economy of Mexico are very closely tied together."

In 2011 Arizona exported $6 billion worth of goods to Mexico, making it Arizona's largest trading partner. California and Texas are well ahead of Arizona though; in 2011 Texas exported $87 billion. Stanton said California and Texas have been focused longer on business with Mexico, but that Arizona can and should work to increase its market share.

"We don't have to give up," Stanton said. "We have to fight for jobs here in Arizona. Fight for our opportunity."

One of Stanton's major focuses for the task force is to increase the physical presence of Phoenix businesses in Mexico. He said that he and council members need to travel to Mexico often to promote business and called upon business leaders to do the same.

But while trips to Mexico are beneficial for increasing awareness of Phoenix businesses, Stanton said a more constant presence is what he would like to see.

"Having an office in Mexico promoting Phoenix businesses, promoting foreign direct investment from Mexico into Phoenix, [and] consistently getting that message out is critically important," Stanton said.

With growth in the Mexican economy, Stanton said it is important for Arizona to focus more on inspiring a friendly business relationship with Mexico.

The task force is made up of councilmembers Daniel Valenzuela, Sal DiCiccio and Michael Nowakowski, as well as top local business leaders and experts in the area of trade with Mexico.

Wednesday's meeting was designed to discuss ideas of what the task force would like to do moving forward. Future meetings will begin to lay out specific goals and expectations.

"Actually setting specific benchmarks is going to be one of the results of this task force," Stanton said. "We're just getting started with it. I've got my own ideas, but I've learned in public life that you take other people's best ideas and you run with them."

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