For a Shared Prosperity
Twenty years have passed since the North American Free Trade Commerce came into effect and Mexico is now seen as a land of opportunity in different parts of the world. I couldn’t agree more.
Economic and political opportunity have been good for our country: Mexico has become a world leader in exports, which represents almost a third of its GDP; that in turn attracts an important flow of foreign investment, focused notably on areas such as the automobile, electronic and aeronautical industries.
Annual goods and services trade between the U.S. and Mexico totals more than US$ 400 billion. According to a Woodrow Wilson Center study, Mexico is the second largest destination for U.S. exports and in third place as an origin for U.S. imports. This bilateral trade explosion means that 1 in 24 jobs, or 6 million of U.S. workers depend on this commercial kindredship. According to the Wilson Center, Mexico is the main destination for exports from California, Arizona, New Mexico and New Hampshire and is the second largest for exports from another 17 states. The balance of North American investment in Mexico is more than US$ 100 billion, a clear sign of a bond that is becoming more solid with time.
Nevertheless, in talks that I have held in the U.S., I have commented that our relationship should develop even further. Beyond free trade, we must find ways to strengthen our ties for the mutual benefit of both countries. An integral Immigration Reform would be a good start.
If goods, services, ideas and capital can cross our borders freely, why, then can’t our people, the real source of this wealth, be able to do so? If we look at things from this perspective then the immigration situation seems absurd - in the U.S. there are more than 11 million illegal immigrants without the right to benefits, even though they pay taxes.
It is interesting to note that while the United States has a chronic deficit in many labor areas, there are millions of people willing to work hard and undertake the difficult and dangerous process of immigration to provide a better future for their families. It is precisely this dream of a brighter tomorrow that constitutes the most powerful economic motor that exists.
I recently had the pleasure of receiving a trade delegation headed by the mayor of Los Angeles, my friend Eric Garcetti
. Among this outstanding group of entrepreneurs, there was a strong interest in the business opportunities of Mexico. The participants understood that in the next two decades our economy has the opportunity to make a notable leap thanks to the younger generations, the gradual consolidation of the middle class, and recent legislative reforms in industries like energy and telecommunications, which have for decades been held exclusively by powerful monopolies.
I also recently exchanged points of view with members of the Aspen Institute, headed by Leonard Lauder and Walter Isaacson, who shared their enthusiasm for our economic and political opening by attending the inauguration of the Mexican Chapter of this distinguished institute. The mere fact that an institution of this importance has selected Mexico as its first choice in Latin America clearly tells us of the growing importance of our country.
I openly share this enthusiasm about what Mexico can achieve in the next two decades, but it is dangerous to ignore the enormous challenges that we still face. Two of them stand out; the weakness of the rule of law and the dimension of the economy’s informal sector add to the fact that both problems tend to mutually reinforce themselves. A great part of the solution is supported in a true cultural change.
From my point of view, the enthusiasm that certain circles in the U.S. are experiencing for Mexico right now isn’t isolated. I perceive the same interest in my trips to other regions. The Mexican economy is in a crucial period of transformation. The last twenty years have been surprising in terms of the modernization of the Mexican economy, but the next twenty years should be even more impressive. This is wonderful for Mexico, but it is also good for the United States. I hope that many leaders can change their negative perception about what happens south of the Rio Bravo. We should consider that shared prosperity is better for all.
A case for cultural change
Let’s support immigration reform
Immigration: we need bridges not walls
For a shared prosperity (Spanish) – La Opinión