Remarks — as prepared for delivery —
Good afternoon. I’m happy to be here with my friend and counterpart Ambassador Sada. And thank you, Congressman O’Rourke, for agreeing to moderate this discussion and for all that you have done and continue to do for the U.S.-Mexico relationship.
Thank you as well to Rolando Pablos and the Borderplex Alliance for inviting me to talk with you today about trade and security, two topics that I spend a lot of time on and are critical to the U.S.-Mexico relationship.
I think it is important to start off by stating a fact which should be obvious to all in this room: trade and security are not mutually exclusive. This isn’t a zero-sum game.
Trade between our countries strengthens institutions, and communities. It supports livelihoods and the rule of law.
I repeat the obvious because all too often we only hear the negative voices. I’m sure Ambassador Sada would agree that it is important for you all – a community that understands better than any and sees firsthand how trade benefits both countries – to be vocal in pushing back against this negative narrative.
To give an example of how we are promoting secure, efficient trade, I would point to our trusted trader programs in North America, like the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, or C-TPAT (see tee pat).
Cargo pre-inspection is another way we support cross-border commerce. In Laredo Mexican authorities inspect all cargo headed to Mexico. In Mesa de Otay, U.S. and Mexican authorities pre-inspect cargo in Mexico, reducing wait times at the border and getting the ‘just-in-time’ goods to their destinations just-in-time. A third pilot program will be launched by the spring of 2017 nearby in San Jeronimo.
Investing in infrastructure for border crossings is essential and helps all of us. On July 22, President Obama and President Peña Nieto met in Washington, D.C., where they committed to use data-driven processes to make these projects a priority.
Trade is a way of life for Mexico and the United States – two of the world’s truly great trading nations. Not only at the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border, but along the entire 2,000-mile shared border where $1.6 billion in commerce crosses every day, the United States and Mexico are making products for our people and for people around the world.
In Ciudad Juarez, much of this commerce consists of complex manufactured products like cars, computers, and airplane parts – manufacturing which is truly competitive on a global scale.
I’d like to conclude by talking a little about why I’m optimistic about our potential for economic growth.
The Government of Mexico’s energy reform has created huge opportunities for energy companies in Mexico, the United States, and around the world. By opening up the energy market, Mexico is becoming more competitive and will provide better service and prices to consumers. I think there is enormous potential for binational cooperation in this area.
Second, in the long term, our educational exchanges are a powerful way to strengthen our cultural and economic bonds and bring increasing prosperity to both sides of the border as our young people and entrepreneurs create the businesses of tomorrow.
Thanks to the efforts of universities such as the University of Texas at El Paso, through 100,000 Strong in the Americas, we continue to promote student exchange in the hemisphere. These exchanges teach the skills you in industry need, and strengthen the economies on both sides of the border.
I’m going to stop there because I want to leave time for conversation. Thank you, and I look forward to our discussion.