Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be here with you tonight. A special thanks to Microsoft for your kind hospitality and for all that you do to support education and innovation around the world.
It’s great to see so many old friends in the room, and to see how many wise and experienced people are here to support this program. But it is even better to be in a room full of so many talented young people — some of whom I know and others whom I look forward to meeting – who are gathered here in Mexico City for the next week to learn more about our bilateral relationship and how you can contribute to our shared future success.
I often say that there is no other bilateral relationship that we have that touches more people on a daily basis than the one between Mexico and the United States. After having served on four continents and worked on economic and political issues around the world, I know this to be true. The numbers speak for themselves. Over one million dollars of trade a minute and over a billion and a half dollars of trade a day. Tens of millions of people cross the border each year, for tourism, business, and education. Mexican-Americans constitute the largest minority in the United States, and we host the second largest population of Mexican citizens outside of Mexico. Our futures are inextricably linked, and we need smart people like you to help us ensure that we are able to address shared challenges and prosper together.
That is why the Embassy has been a proud partner of FoCUS since its creation, and why we are so pleased to see it growing stronger and more connected networked each year. I’d like to pay special tribute to its co-founders, Alejandro Navarro and Jorge Olarte. Congratulations on not only your vision, but also on all the time and effort spent in realizing that vision and expanding the voices at the table. The fact that you opened a second chapter in Monterrey and Boston this year is a clear indicator that there is a growing interest among university students on both sides of the border to build knowledge of the U.S.-Mexico issues at play and to bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the table.
I had a chance to review your agenda for the next week, and I can see that you are going to have the opportunity to review key issues in our bilateral relationship. From immigration to issues related to our shared border and energy markets, to consideration of the role of gender and social activism in our societies, you will be discussing most of the key elements that the my team at the U.S. Mission to Mexico and I deal with on a daily basis. I encourage you all to listen with open minds, to be thoughtful about what you are hearing, and to think about how you can support or improve what is already underway. And I hope that you continue these conversations even after the week is over, finding ways to concretize your ideas in joint projects that can help us address the challenges that we face.
Before I close tonight, I wanted to say a few brief words about academic mobility. As many of you know, President Pena-Nieto and President Obama the number of have put increasing student exchange at the top of our policy priorities. That’s because as we work to create the most competitive and prosperous economic region in the world, we need to be cultivating future leaders who speak each other’s languages, understand each other’s cultures, and know how to work together. You all are those future leaders. But there is strength, and prosperity, in greater numbers. We need all of you to go back to your campuses, and talk to your teachers, your friends, and your international exchange offices about why studying across the border is so important. Help us break down stereotypes. Help us increase the numbers of citizens who get why this is the most important bilateral relationship that we have.
The strength of the U.S.-Mexico relationship depends on our ability to speak honestly about the shared challenges and opportunities that we face, and to find innovative new ways to address them. Bill Gates once said, “Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.” Thanks to FoCUS and its many generous sponsors, we are creating more opportunities to collaborate and share ideas across our border. I hope that all of you end this week with a better understanding of our communal needs, and the inspiration and partnerships to address them. Our shared future depends on it.