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Media 111912 DOS Wayne

Monday, November 19, 2012

U.S. Ambassador Addresses the Harvard Club in Mexico City

E. Anthony Wayne

(As delivered)

Good morning.  I am very pleased to be with you here today and I want to thank Maestro Santiago Creuheras for the opportunity to speak to my fellow alumni about all the opportunities I see in the future of the United States-Mexico bilateral relationship. 

As we all know, President Obama was re-elected on November 6.  His reelection offers some important continuity to our relationship at a moment when the global economy is fragile and we have some tough issues to deal with at home, like the fiscal cliff that could have significant impacts on our neighbor. We will shortly welcome the new administration here in Mexico and look forward to an equally close and productive partnership as we have enjoyed over the last six years. 

Will a new Obama administration look at Mexico in a different way?  I would argue that everyone, from both political parties and every level of government, is already looking at our relationship in a new way.  We enjoy an unprecedented level of cooperation, thanks to ever-growing trust and constructive dialogue on many issues, and opportunities for continuing this cooperation are plentiful.  From intelligence sharing in the fight against transnational organized crime to collaboration on border infrastructure, we work together in ways unthinkable a few short years ago.

Our growing partnership is our greatest opportunity going forward.  There is near consensus in both countries to continue the process of North American connectivity.  If we better harmonize our efforts to promote security and shared prosperity, and to educate our youth, that will improve not only how we relate to each other, but how we relate to the rest of the world as neighbors and partners. 

While security gets most of the headlines, our integrated economic relationship generates prosperity on both sides of the border.  As we move forward, coordination between domestic and foreign policymakers is increasingly important.

On security, we are committed to a continued partnership with the Mexico as it confronts transnational crime, as demonstrated by our ongoing support for the Merida Initiative.  As a result of this bilateral framework, the government of Mexico has trained prosecutors, disrupted drug cartels, and jailed cartel leadership.  The United States is proud to have delivered more than one billion dollars in equipment, training and capacity building in support of Mexico's effort.  This is a small part of the overall resources Mexico has invested in the fight to improve security, but nonetheless it symbolizes our shared concern and our strong partnership.  

While much of our joint work has focused on our shared northern border, we look forward to supporting the incoming administration as it works with its Central American neighbors to establish a secure southern border.  A modern, secure southern border will lead to decreased illegal migration into Mexico, a decline in the transit of illicit substances, as well as a reduction in the horrible crime of trafficking in persons.  

Security is clearly an important topic, and one where we look forward to ever greater coordination.  On the economic front over the next four years, commerce and the power of an integrated and harmonized production base, will be a major avenue for strengthening our relationship.  This knitting together of our economies, accelerated by NAFTA, is far from over and will continue to drive economic growth in North America. Last year, the United States and Mexico had nearly 461 billion dollars in merchandise trade.  That means that every day, over 1.2 billion dollars in trade crisscrosses our shared border.  On top of this we added another 39 billion dollars in services trade and now have a combined 100 billion dollars in foreign direct investment.  The importance of the United States' trade and investment relationship with Mexico cannot be overstated.  Not only is Mexico the second largest recipient of U.S. exports, our trade with Mexico sustains over six million American jobs.  Mexico's increasing competitiveness has led to an increasing share of U.S. imports -- about 13 percent this year.  This trend is being driven by the rising cost of labor in China and the impact of high energy prices on transportation, and there are compelling reasons to believe that it is not just a short-term phenomenon.  At the same time, Mexico continues to export more of its goods and services to the United States than to any other country.  New foreign investment from the United States has more than doubled in the past two years, from around 5 billion dollars in 2010 to over 10 billion in 2011.  The United States remains the number one destination for Mexican goods and services and investments.

Even in today's globalized world, we are regularly reminded that geography matters.  Mexico's proximity to the U.S. market grants it unique competitive advantages of flexibility, responsiveness, and fast delivery of goods.  Changes in manufacturing processes are reshaping global supply chains and putting a greater premium on differentiated products tailored to the needs of final customers.  These incentives are inducing companies to shift production from Asia to North America which promises to open important opportunities for the increasingly integrated manufacturing sectors in both Mexico and the United States.

Mexico's entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations provides an invaluable opportunity to build on the foundation of NAFTA.  TPP will ensure our trade regime is up to date and will facilitate the opening of a new market of 198 million consumers with $1 trillion dollars of purchasing power.  It will help open export markets to Mexico and maintain privileges currently enjoyed under NAFTA.  The TPP is an ambitious agreement, but one that will set the agenda for future trade agreements and maintain our countries' position at the forefront of global trade. 

As in the early 1990's, Mexico and the United States now face important choices that will have a major impact on our future economic prosperity.  In the United States, we need to accelerate the current economic recovery while investing in our long-term economic competiveness.  In Mexico, there is a broad consensus on the need for further structural economic reforms, including in the labor, energy, and fiscal reforms.  In addition to meeting our respective domestic challenges, there is much that we can do working together to promote shared prosperity throughout North America - something I think will be at the top of the priority list for both administrations.

And in connection with the importance of long term investment, I want to stress the importance of investing in education and educational exchanges.  We are putting a great deal of effort into President Obama's 100,000 Strong Initiative but we really need your help to boost exchanges.


U.S. Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne, Embassy of the United States - Mexico, Mexico, D.F., Nov. 15, 2012

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