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Feature 121613 Wayne

Monday, December 16, 2013


U.S. Envoy to Mexico Covers Varied Subjects at Wilson Center

Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne


To begin I’d like to recognize the important work done by Duncan Wood and the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center.  Thank you for inviting me to speak today.  I’m also pleased to share the podium with Undersecretary Alcocer and Ambassador Medina Mora, who have been very valuable partners in our joint efforts to move forward our vital relationship.  Thank you as well to the Mexico Institute board co-chairs Roger Wallace and José Antonio Fernández. 

 As Vice President Biden put it during his visit to Mexico City in September, “there is no relationship that we value more” than the one we have with Mexico.  I would add to this that there is no relationship more important to the United States. 


With nearly a half a billion people living in our two countries and a 2,000 mile shared border between us, the opportunity for us to work together is immense. 

Presidents Obama and Peña Nieto made the path forward for the bilateral relationship very clear during President Obama’s trip to Mexico last May.  They said that the time had come to focus on the opportunities in our expansive and dynamic relationship. 

They also said they wanted to broaden the bilateral discussion to include issues such as economic integration, educational exchanges, and energy development.  At the heart of their message was a call for us to forge a strategic partnership that benefits the United States and Mexico both individually and collectively.

The U.S.-Mexico economic relationship, as I’ve said many times before, is unparalleled for the unique synergy that links it.  U.S. and Mexican companies don’t simply sell products to one another, they build products together.  The products we export to each other contain significant amounts of inputs from both countries, and improvements in productivity in one nation make a co-manufactured product cheaper and more competitive on the global market. 

Highlighting the deepening integration between our two countries, and the accelerating dynamism of our intra-North American trade, the latest data from the United States shows the increasing importance of Mexico to the United States.  U.S. exports in 2013 have increased by 1.7 percent overall year to date, but increased by more than double that amount overall to Mexico during the same period. 

On the Mexican side, according to figures released by the National Institute of Statistics, overall exports this year through September have increased by 2.2 percent over the same period in 2012, while non-oil exports towards the United States increased by almost 6 percent during the same period this year.  

To ensure that we are fully taking advantage of the potential of our economic cooperation, in May our Presidents announced the establishment of a High Level Economic Dialogue focused on promoting competitiveness, productivity and connectivity; fostering economic growth and innovation; and partnering for global leadership.  The Dialogue recognizes that global competitiveness requires continued and deepened economic integration, commercial exchange and policy alignment. 

Key elements of the Dialogue work agenda focus on entrepreneurship, civil aviation, and telecommunications.  U.S. and Mexican business groups have shown strong support for the Dialogue, which is a priority for the U.S. government and the Embassy.  A number of CEOs from both countries will meet next week here in Mexico City to develop agreed priorities.

To be globally competitive, countries need access to reliable and affordable energy.  Our energy relationship is mutually benefitting.  Mexico is the United States’ third-largest oil supplier and the United States is Mexico’s number one supplier of gasoline and natural gas.  Our interconnectedness is growing with two additional cross-border pipelines being built that will provide additional U.S. natural gas to Mexico.  This has not gone unnoticed. 

During the inter-parliamentary meetings in late November in Mexico City, where nine U.S. congressmen met with their Mexican counterparts, U.S. and Mexican lawmakers agreed to promote greater energy security and interdependence among the two nations to convert North America into a major global player in the energy sector as well as make North America the most competitive region. 

Presidents Obama and Peña Nieto also announced in May the creation of the Mexico-U.S. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council, known as MUSEIC, which is dedicated to coordinating strategies to strengthen the regional innovative entrepreneurship ecosystem. 

Focus areas for MUSEIC include: access to capital, legal reforms, opportunities for women entrepreneurship, partnerships between small business networks, technology commercialization, border cluster mapping and engagement of  the Latino Diaspora in the U.S.  Each of these subcommittees has a Mexican and U.S. co-chairperson.

On the multilateral front, both countries are working together to seek a successful conclusion to the Trans-Pacific Partnership that includes 21stcentury provisions that significantly strengthen the North American Free Trade Agreement.


Another area of emphasis in the bilateral relationship is education.  In September, during Vice President Biden’s visit, we celebrated the first truly binational preparatory meeting of the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research, an initiative that underpins all of our economic and entrepreneurship efforts.  Our governments seek to expand economic and educational opportunities for citizens of both countries and to develop a 21st century workforce for our mutual economic prosperity.   More than 14,000 Mexicans study in the United States and nearly 3,900 Americans study in Mexico annually, but these numbers could and should be increased given the foundational role that educational exchange plays in our long-term political, social, and economic partnership.   

Our governments are working with the private sector, academia, research institutions, and civil society on both sides of the border to strengthen institutional research partnerships and academic exchange programs.  

In March 2011, President Obama launched the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative to bring 100,000 students from Latin America and the Caribbean to study in the United States.  The government of Mexico raised the bar in its “Proyecto 100,000  (Cien Mil)” when it proposed to send 100,000 students from Mexico to the United States by 2018 and to receive 50,000 US students to Mexico in that same timeframe.  In order to meet these lofty goals, we will depend on all of our partners, including each of you in this room, to spread the word on how important it is that we learn to study, research and innovate with each other. 

I know that many of you in this room have studied in the United States and know what it takes to do so.  We need to spread the message to both American and Mexican students, from grammar school to graduate programs, that study across the border is not only personally enriching and profoundly life-changing, but critical to our shared futures.   

Even as the United States and Mexico are expanding cooperation on various aspects of our relationship, our collaboration on security issues continues.  This is important work that is crucial to the stability not just of Mexico, but of the entire region.  It is also essential to our economic competitiveness.  Cooperation under the Mérida Initiative’s capacity building programs is being renewed at the federal and state levels. 

It is focused on long-term institutional strengthening of the police and criminal justice system, support to Mexico’s northern and southern borders, and assistance on money laundering, police intelligence, and other methods of reducing violence and dismantling transnational criminal organizations.   

Working with the Mexican government and civil society to combat trafficking in persons is also a high priority for the United States.  One example of this collaboration is a trafficking in persons TechCamp, which is going on right now in Tlaxcala, designed to help empower civil society groups to get the hands-on training they need to better execute their missions in the Digital Age.  Also, this week in Mexico City, U.S. and Mexican official participated in a seminar on combatting child exploitation, including child pornography, to deepen our already strong cooperation in this area.

The 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report, published by the Department of State, highlighted the significant progress made by the Government of Mexico in the past year, including the adoption of the 2012 law on trafficking in persons and increases in the number of criminal sentences against traffickers.  The government of Mexico continues to promote various efforts at both national and local levels to raise awareness against human trafficking.  Although there has been progress, much remains to be done by both countries, especially in areas related to assistance and the protection of victims. 

Regarding an issue that is of vital importance on both sides of the border, President Obama has reaffirmed many times his commitment to pursuing comprehensive immigration reform. 

Vice President Biden reiterated during his September visit that immigration reform is a matter of justice, respect, and dignity to all people.  The Obama administration understands that U.S. immigration reform will have a large impact on Mexico, because of the millions of Mexican citizens living in the United States and because of our shared border.  We want to ensure that those who come to fill needs in the U.S. labor market do so through regulated, legal mechanisms, that they are not exploited, and that they are aware of their rights and respect our laws.

Our countries share one of the most dynamic borders in the world, and this in turn creates strong ties between the people of the United States and Mexico.  In the last fiscal year our embassy and consulates in Mexico adjudicated over 1.8 million non-immigrant visa applications, and here in Mexico City we issued a record number of U.S. passports.

We want to capitalize on these strong cross-border links with programs that aim to increase tourist, educational, and business relationships between Mexico and the United States. 

Much of the work we’re doing to strengthen our relationship is going on in the border region.   With more than 1 million people and roughly $1.4 billion in goods and services transiting our shared border every day, we have a strong incentive to pursue a strategic partnership in that region.  We are committed to a securing and efficient shared border and, as President Obama said in May, we will look to support key projects and initiatives that improve infrastructure, support the efforts of local communities, facilitate the secure flow of legitimate trade and travel, and enhance law enforcement cooperation in the region.

The United States and Mexico are long-time strategic allies and critical economic partners and our future competitiveness and prosperity and increasingly linked.  We are committed to pushing forward with our Mexican partners on a bilateral agenda that encourages increased cross-border relations, promotes growth, drives innovation and deepens our cooperation.  I look forward to listening to today’s discussions and again want to thank Duncan and the Wilson Center for organizing this very useful event. 

Thank you. 


Press release, Dec. 5, 2013, Embassy of the United States, Mexico City.

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