Officials overseeing the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport face a key decision that could impact the future of cross-border commerce on Nov. 21.
The airport’s Board of Directors will decide whether to take the next step to land the unified cargo processing program, which would allow companies to pre-clear customs on products they send to Mexico. The program would have U.S. and Mexican customs officials working together to inspect shipments headed south of the border.
There are only a handful of Mexican airports equipped to inspect cargo from the U.S., said J Brian O’Neill executive director and CEO of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority. By pre-clearing customs in Mesa, those companies could ship directly to any Mexican airport.
“We’re really thinking that there is going to be a significant amount of time savings and a significant amount of cost savings by having the products pre-clear here in Mesa and then go on to their final destination,” O’Neill said.
Demand will decide if Mexican customs officials ultimately work in Mesa, and demand will be created by the project’s developer, O’Neill said. The unified cargo processing program would be part of a larger development on 360 acres of land near the airport.
The entire development could bring thousands of high-paying jobs to the East Valley, O’Neill said. If all goes smoothly, dirt could start moving in early 2019.
“That may be aggressive because I’m sure there are other hidden hurdles that we are going, we as in the partners, are going to have to overcome,” O’Neill said.
If the Board of Directors approves the draft of the master development agreement, it would then look to sign a lease with the developer and approve a final master plan, O’Neill said.