The $213 million reconstruction of the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, Ariz. is about halfway done, with some new lanes already open. The project is designed to expedite crossings of tractor trailers carrying produce and other goods from Mexico into Arizona.

You’ve probably heard where the U.S. Senate candidates stand on border security and President Obama’s de-facto ‘Dream Act,’ but you may not know their stances on cross-border commerce.

In the second of three Sunday guest editorials in the Arizona Daily Star, Republican Jeff Flake, Democrat Richard Carmona and Libertarian Marc Victor answered this question:  

What does Arizona need to do better and how will you expedite trade across our state's border?

They were given this background to consider — Mexico is Arizona's top export partner, accounting for more than a third of our state's foreign trade. Yet the total value of our exports to Mexico has grown by 1 percent over the past four years while Texas has increased its total by 40 percent. What does Arizona need to do better and how will you expedite trade across our state's border?

In the first round of guest editorials, the three candidates wrote about how they plan to create jobs for Arizonans. Here are links to their most recent guest editorials about cross-border commerce with short summaries of what they said:

Republican Jeff Flake

Flake said NAFTA has been a positive development for both Arizona and Mexico and that Mexico is a valuable trading partner and vital to Arizona’s economic health.

He proposed reforming the tax code to eliminate burdensome regulations; fully staffing border ports of entry; and continuing to help Mexican government with drug violence plaguing the country, which can create more economic stability.

The government should definitely not provide bailout to any industry, he said.

“There's always the urge by the federal government to solve a problem by spending money on it. One thing government should not do is offer incentives or bailouts to specific industries or companies. Whenever the federal government tries to pick winners or losers in the economy, it's always taxpayers who ultimately lose. Debacles like Solyndra are the result of the government trying to insert itself into the economy.”

Democrat Richard Carmona

Carmona said Arizona’s relationship with Mexico is “one of the least talked about and most important drivers” of the state’s economy. He said more state leaders need to focus on building critical relationships in Mexico to encourage more trade between the two countries.

“There are 23 states that have offices throughout Mexico to encourage trade - Arizona isn't currently one of them. And many of our exports to Mexico only make it to the border state of Sonora, so they don't break into Mexico's largest markets,” Carmona wrote. “While Arizona has struggled to gain traction in Mexico, other states have seen their trade grow significantly over the last few years. In trying to assess why our state isn't as strong of a trade partner, it's hard to ignore the vitriol and heated rhetoric that comes from our state officials.”

Libertarian Marc Victor

Victor said that answer is free market. “The state with the market that is most free wins,” Victor wrote.

Texas is outpacing Arizona for border commerce because it is a more business-friendly state, he said.

“If we want to improve Arizona's exports to Mexico, the answer is less taxes and less regulation. It's the same old boring but true argument; freedom and the free market always do better than regulation and taxes,” he wrote.

Stay tuned to the Pueblo Politics blog throughout 2012 for news, updates and information about Arizona politics. You can follow Arizona Daily Star reporters Brady McCombs, Becky Pallack and Tim Steller on Twitter.