North America in the World 2015

Some may think that the meeting between Presidents Obama and Pena Nieto this week served merely as the “other news” besides the Republicans taking control of both chambers of the Congress today. But the U.S. – Mexico relationship, actually much more strategic than most know, has timeliness such that the meeting was of more import and more critically timed than they might realize.

TRADE: NAFTA celebrates its 20th anniversary last year and has truly and overwhelmingly benefitted Fortune 500 companies. Yet most Americans still think NAFTA is a dirty word…largely because they haven’t seen the direct benefits to themselves.  These include not just cheaper prices on commodities we import from Mexico like fresh new electronics and fresh produce but a trickle down of millions of jobs, many in services, from those multinational corporations that jointly manufacture advanced products for the world to consume.  Mexico has more free trade agreements than any other nation meaning our jointly produced, high U.S. content exports benefit nearly every American.

ENERGY: The three North American energy ministers met late in 2014 as Mexico completes the implementation of its energy reform and as petroleum prices crashed worldwide.  These all matter to the U.S.-Mexico relationship facilitating joint manufacturing that will benefit from the cheaper prices available to the entire North American manufacturing platform. At the same time the two nations are working collaboratively to eliminate both health-impacting criteria and greenhouse gases from fossil fuel mixes.

CUBA: The attempt by the U.S to re-establish ties with Cuba really has Mexico as a fulcrum and not just because Americans travel through Mexico to get to Cuba.  The reality is that every south-looking allianceand liaison that Mexico has joined, Cuba has been a member and Mexico is the perfect “go- between” and exemplar for that budding relationship.

MIGRATION: The United States cannot ponder migration without consulting the donor nations and while Mexico is no longer the source of most migrants, it is the route that most migrants choose to arrive from those poorer nations.  As such, consulting Mexico and looking at the highly successful Mexico-Canada migration accord which has been guiding their migration circularity for over a decade, is advised.

EDUCATION: Developing a common workforce regardless of what country they work in is critical to assuring the advanced manufacturing we have developed not only remain competitive worldwide but is able to bring products to market more affordably than other low-income nations.  Beating China at making solar photovoltaic cells is an example.  NARP has published policy briefs on the North American transborder education challenge (“U.S.-Mexico Educational Exchange:Academic Underperformance and a New Diplomatic Opportunity” and “U.S.-Canada Educational Exchange: Academic Alliances and Opportunities” ).

ECONOMICS But no relationship is more important than the economic relationship.  So much so that Vice President Biden chairs the High Level Economic Dialogue between the two countries that is only now finding its feet.  The meeting this week is only the second official get together in over a year and half of talking.  With two years left of this administration many along the border are hoping trade, commerce, and business can continue to dominate the conversation.

SECURITY: But no conversation with Mexico is complete without considering corruption, crime, and violence.  The United States has adopted an attitude of understanding the networks of transnational crime organizations to better share responsibility with Mexico to eliminate those supply chains for drugs, guns, and yes, even humans, who are trafficked.

NORTH AMERICA: As the three North American leaders prepare for their annual summit later this year, it was strategically important that U.S. and Mexico settle binational, bilateral, transborder issues before the three meet.

NARP will remain busy engaging local stakeholders in the process.