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Arizona Rep. Tom Forese speaks at a Phoenix event intended to ask the state to match funds for a trade office in Mexico. (KTAR Photo/Jim Cross)

PHOENIX -- The city of Phoenix is ready to spend $150,000 each year to open a trade office in Mexico, but only if the state is willing to match that price.

Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski said Mexico is the state's largest trading partner with about $6 billion changing hands each year and he sees Arizona becoming a hub for trade with Mexico's improved highway system moving goods to the entire United States.

"We could become a hub in transporting goods to Colorado, New Mexico, the Midwest," he said. "And that's where we have the advantage."

Still, Arizona lags far behind trade between Mexico and Texas, which he estimates is about $90 billion yearly.

Nogales Vice Mayor Nubar Hanessian welcomed the possible opening of the trade office because it would benefit his community on Interstate 19, right at the border.

"The nice thing about Mexico is that they do like the United States," he said. "They want to come here, spend money and invest in the United States."

Arizona Rep. Tom Forese of Chandler will lead the charge at the capitol to green light the funds.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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