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The latest economic indicators report for the Arizona-Sonora region is out, and the news is mixed.

Researchers in the Eller Economic and Business Research Center (EBR) found that although trade flows of exports and imports through the region grew faster than average among all U.S.-Mexico ports of entry between 2003 and 2006, the region had a net loss in commodity flow in 2007, even as other ports of entry grew.

Arizona ranch land

Arizona ranch land just north of Sonora, Mexico.
Photo by Simmons Buntin.

“The Arizona-Sonora region is lagging behind the rest of the border region,” says senior research scientist Vera Pavlakovich-Kochi, “but even results that aren’t encouraging can be beneficial to hear. These are the kinds of results that can help focus action on areas that need attention.”

On the positive side, economic indicators show steady growth in innovative research and development activities, development of a highly-skilled workforce, and communication networks, suggesting the region’s movement towards a knowledge-based economy is gaining traction.

The report also indicates that between 1997 and 2006, gross state product (GSP) in the Arizona-Sonora Region grew at higher rate that the average for U.S.-Mexico border states, especially in recent years between 2004 and 2006. Sonora’s GSP grew faster than Arizona’s. However, dominance of Arizona’s share of the region’s GSP still persists.

Complete results of the report are available online. The regional economic indicators report is completed on a biannual basis as part of a partnership between the University of Arizona and the Arizona-Mexico Commission dating back to 2000.

“It’s a unique tool to understand how these states work together,” Pavlakovich-Kochi says. “Through it, we can monitor progress toward achieving joint Arizona-Sonora goals and report changes in the region’s position relative to the entire border region.” 

The idea of Arizona and Sonora as a single economic region was formally advanced at the 1993 Arizona-Mexico Commission/Comisión Sonora-Arizona plenary session in Phoenix. The goal was to enhance economic development and regional growth through formal collaboration and more efficient utilization of complementary resources within the NAFTA framework.

View more information about the Arizona-Mexico Commission, or get details on other economic indicator reports at the award-winning EBR website.