Significant developments on several fronts in US–Mexico bilateral relations evidence a continued strong partnership between the two countries.
Mexico has positioned itself as the United States’ top trading partner
At the 17th Business Summit that was held in Cancun from October 20-22, 2019, officials from the United States and Mexico estimated that trade between the two nations will quadruple as a result of the implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreenent (USMCA). As such, Mexico has positioned itself as the United States’ top trading partner, already outperforming both China and Canada.
US-Mexico bilateral relations in the area of trade could increase from the current US $620 billion dollars annually to nearly a trillion dollars in the next five years, according to Larry Rubin, a Mexican-American businessman who was representing the US Republican Party at the Summit. Rubin anticipates that the United States-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement will take effect in January of 2020. According to the US ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, getting the USMCA passed by the United States Congress is high on the list of the current priorities that exist in the area of US-Mexico bilateral relations.
During his participation at the Business Summit, ambassador Landau observed that one of the most notable consequences of the US trade conflict with China has been the dynamization of import and export activities between his country and Mexico.
On the Mexican side, Gustavo de Hoyos, president of Patronal Confederation of the Mexican Republic (COPARMEX), observed that because the eventual passage of the USMCA is virtually “an unequivocal fact,” now is the appropriate time to begin to discuss other issues that are important to US-Mexico bilateral relations. Among these are the possibility of establishing a common monetary unit for all of North America, as well as future collaboration on military and migration issues. As relates to the last point, Mexico was recently successful in stopping a caravan of 2,000 migrants attempting to head north from southern Mexico to the US border. This caravan was composed of individuals from various nations, including Central American and African countries, as well as Haiti and Cuba.
US-Mexico bilateral relations include strengthening the Merida Plan
The Merida Plan was formulated and agreed upon in 2008 by the United States, Mexico, and the countries of Central America. It’s purpose and declared aim is the combating of threats related to drug trafficking, transnational organized crime, and money laundering. As a part of the discussions that took place on the subject of US-Mexico bilateral relations at the Cancun Business Summit, representatives from both countries agreed that the Merida Plan should be strengthened by a renewed commitment to its implementation.
The Merida Plan is founded upon four pillars of cooperation that are designed to counter violence caused by drugs that has threatened citizens on both sides of the US-Mexico border.
The four pillars are as follows:
- The disruption of the operational capacity of organized crime. This end would be accomplished by decreasing the power of Mexican organized crime groups by systematically capturing and processing its ringleaders, reducing profits from the illicit drug trade, and curbing money laundering activities.
- The institutionalization of the ability to maintain the rule of law. Strengthening its legal institutions will enable Mexico to strengthen public security and controls at its border. Within the framework of US-Mexico bilateral relations established by the Merida Plan, the US will support Mexico in its efforts to strengthen the capacities of key institutions, to professionalize its armed forces, and to reform its correctional institutions.
- The creation of a 21st century border structure. The Merida Plan aims to promote the facilitation of legitimate trade and people, while restricting the illicit flow of drugs, people, weapons, and cash. The Merida Plan will provide the foundation for better infrastructure and technology that strengthens and modernizes border security, as well as at ports and airports.
- The building of strong and resilient communities. Strengthening communities takes place when a culture of respect for the law is created. The Merida Plan seeks to create work programs, to engage young people in their communities, to expand social safety nets, and to build trust in public institutions.
Taken together, in the context of US-Mexico bilateral relations, these four pillars will strengthen the two nation’s abilities to fight organized crime and the violence that it perpetuates, as well as will enhance North American bilateral security.
The United States praises Mexico’s cooperation in immigration
Another positive development in US-Mexico bilateral relation was recently evidenced by the praise that the US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, Mark Morgan, recently gave regarding Mexico’s efforts to stem the arrival of asylum seekers on the southern US border.
At a press conference held at the White House in October, Morgan communicated that the cooperation between the US and Mexico on this important issue has been “incredible.” The commissioner also noted that the total number of migrants detained on the border with Mexico fell in September for the fourth consecutive month. Mexican officials intercepted approximately 52,000 migrants at the border last month. The total number of migrants intercepted at the border during fiscal 2019 is likely to add up to nearly one million, one of the highest ever recorded.