The binational economic zone spanning and Imperial counties as well as Baja California produced $24.3 billion in foreign exports the last year data was available, according to a newly released study.

Research conducted by the World Trade Center San Diego and UC San Diego's Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies also claims that $6.2 billion stayed within the «Cali Baja mega-region» during 2013.

The information comes as the Trump administration considers renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the president has repeatedly maligned as unfair to the U.S.

«Against the backdrop of rapid changes in global production, a newfound ‘trade war' with China and renegotiations of trade agreements,» economic prosperity relies upon border-spanning trade and production, said Nikia Clarke, World Trade Center San Diego executive director.

«An integrated North American economy creates opportunity on both sides of the border. For every 10 jobs an American multinational creates in Mexico, it creates 25 in the United States,» she said. «As we look at a global economy where 95 percent of the world consumers live outside of North America, the ways we partner with Canada and Mexico to produce goods, services and technology is crucial to our economic future.»

The impact of cross-border commerce isn't limited to Southern California, according to the study.

It says Mexico is California's largest export market, with annual exports totaling $26.8 billion. Overall, data indicates Mexico supports more than 566,000 jobs in California.

The study also says 51 percent of trade within the mega-region is in services, including computer systems design, scientific research, software publishing and data publishing.

The region also produces commodities, according to data, including medical devices, semiconducters, aerospaces parts as well as audio and video equipment. The regional manufacturing sector directly employs 418,300 workers.

«It is clear that the cross-border economic relationship plays a critical role in the Cali Baja mega-region in spurring economic growth, advancing technology and enhancing lives on many levels,» said Melissa Floca, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies associate director. «These findings underscore the importance of continued cooperation between Mexico and the U.S. to enhance the value we create as a region in services and advanced manufacturing.»

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