Good afternoon and thank you to Sergio Pérez Cervantes and the Asociación de Agentes Aduanales for hosting today’s event.
What I love about visiting the border region is seeing the dynamism that emerges when two countries, two economies, and two cultures blend together. The border is proud of its many unique traditions, and with good reason. Last month, many of you celebrated both Día de los Muertos and Thanksgiving. Many of the economic leaders in this room are dual nationals and run businesses in both Nuevo Laredo and Laredo. You live, work, study, shop, and invest in both countries. Your daily lives are intricately entwined with the strong and essential relationship that thrives between the United States and Mexico.
Consul General Linderman also told me about a unique local tradition yesterday – the yearly “Abrazo” ceremony on the international bridge between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. Los Dos Laredos truly have a common heritage and shared future that transcends politics. For that reason, I commend Mayor Rivas and Mayor Saenz on their strong commitment to the Binational Committee and on working together to foster a shared prosperity. The work of this committee is now more vital than ever.
Nuevo Laredo and Laredo are at the heart of our profoundly linked economies. Companies like Rheem, Medline, Caterpillar, Sony, and Modine have factories in both countries and their supply lines crisscross the border. The customs agents and transport companies represented in this room ensure commercial cargo crosses the border and arrives at its destinations efficiently. Customs and Border Protection and Mexican Customs operate a bridge just a few kilometers from here through which over 40 percent of our land-based trade passes. Your economic development associations – like CODEIN, Laredo Development Foundation, and INDEX – work to attract investment and put the region on a positive trajectory towards growth. The hard work of the very people in this room allows our two countries to trade over a million dollars’ worth of goods and services each minute. I applaud you for your efforts.
As home of the World Trade Bridge, this community knows firsthand how vital infrastructure is to promote trade flows and economic growth. I commend Congressman Henry Cuellar and the Cities of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo on the proposed expansion of the World Trade Bridge. We need infrastructure that meets the demands of our growing trade relationship. Agreeing on a regional strategic plan is a key component of advancing these border infrastructure initiatives.
Over the past eight years, we have formed new economic partnerships to promote government-to-government and public-private cooperation. The High Level Economic Dialogue has advanced strategic economic and commercial priorities central to promoting mutual economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness. The CEO Dialogue, a partnership between U.S. and Mexican business leaders, has had great success engaging both governments on key economic and trade issues. The U.S.-Mexico Energy Business Council, which will hold its first meeting in December, will provide expert advice and counsel to both of our governments to ensure our joint energy needs are addressed efficiently and effectively.
This relationship is not optional. As all of you in this room can attest, a strong U.S.-Mexico relationship is a must.
Finally, I want to touch on how to move forward. Government officials alone do not control the future of our relationship. The vast and growing connections between Mexicans and Americans outside of government will play an enormous role in our future. The business ties you forge, the schools you send your children to, the investments you make – all of these send clear signals to Mexico City and Washington about the type of future you envision for our two countries.
Those of you seated in this room are the beneficiaries, experts, and agents of a strong U.S.-Mexico relationship. You have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to ensure the United State and Mexico share the kind of future that you want us to have. Make sure your voices are heard in Ciudad Victoria and Austin, and in Mexico City and Washington, DC. And most importantly, let Nuevo Laredo and Laredo speak with one voice. Your unity is your strength. Now more than ever we need to hear your story of how our bilateral relationship has delivered economic dynamism to our region. Thank you.