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US trade deal could add billions to Arizona’s economy

PHOENIX — Arizona could receive billions of dollars in trade should a pact be made between the United States and 11 other nations.

Arizona would see an estimated $12.8 billion in trade should the Trans-Pacific Partnership gain final approval. U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman said the agreement would break down barriers and reduce tariffs on goods headed to and from the state.

“That is of importance economically,” he said. “It’s also of importance strategically.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter called the partnership one of the most important parts of the administration’s effort to shift more attention to Asia and the Pacific after more than a decade of focusing on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On this side of the Pacific, Valley economist Jim Rounds said the proposed Interstate 11 — which would connect Canada and Mexico via Arizona and other Mountain West states — would pour additional funding into the state’s coffers.

“We have to be able to move these goods in and out if we’re going to make them and consume them,” he said. “It’s two-pronged: Making the opportunities happen and having the infrastructure in place to assure that it continues in the future decades.”

Rounds also said Arizona’s outreach efforts to Mexico in recent years will be key to fighting off trade competition from other border states, particularly Texas.

“Our politicians and economic leaders have been working very hard to develop new relationships like Texas did over the past 10 years,” he said. “I think we have more room to grow so we can make up the ground we lost from when we weren’t paying attention to economic development and excel.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.