This morning, the Vice President is hosting the Mexican government for the second meeting of the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. HLED is a flexible platform that allows the U.S. and Mexican governments to advance our economic priorities, foster growth, create jobs, and improve competitiveness. Cabinet officials from the U.S. and Mexico meet annually, while sub-cabinet officials work toward these goals year-round. Private sector and civil society representatives are an important part of this process. Together, the two countries discuss the best way to develop our economic relationship with a view toward strengthening the North American economy while supporting our workers and companies.
HLED will also help advance our efforts to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a 21st-century historic trade and investment agreement that includes 12 Asia-Pacific countries, intended to further deepen regional economic relations and boost economic growth, development, prosperity, and job creation in both countries.
The HLED dialogue was launched through a cabinet-level meeting in September 2013 in Mexico. Vice President Biden hosted the January 6, 2015 meeting in Washington – the second cabinet-level meeting of the dialogue – giving us the opportunity to take stock of our accomplishments to date and establish new priorities for 2015.
Who Participates in HLED
On the U.S. side, the HLED is co-chaired by the Departments of State and Commerce, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and also includes the participation of other agencies, such as the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor, Transportation, and Treasury, together with the U.S. Agency for International Development and other governmental entities. On the Mexican side, it is co-chaired by the Secretariats of Economy, Finance, and Foreign Relations, and includes the participation of the Secretariats of Agriculture, Communications and Transport, Education, Energy, Labor, and Tourism, together with Mexican Customs, the investment promotion agency ProMexico, the National Institute for Entrepreneurship, and others. Stakeholder input is key to making the HLED a dynamic platform and we welcome input from the private sector and civil society on our website: www.trade.gov/hled.
To elevate the economic relationship and in order to open opportunities for consumers, employees, private sector representatives, and business owners on both sides of the border, the United States and Mexico have developed a work plan with three pillars:
- 1. Promoting Competitiveness and Connectivity;
- 2. Fostering Economic Growth, Productivity, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation; and
- 3. Partnering for Regional and Global Leadership
Within these pillars, our governments have committed to the priorities below for 2015:
- Energy and climate change cooperation. At the January 2015 meeting, for the first time, our governments agreed to add energy and climate cooperation to the HLED work-plan. The United States and Mexico will enhance communication and collaboration between our energy agencies, facilitate cross-border flow of energy-related equipment, improve information on U.S.-Mexico energy flows, create a binational business-to-business energy council, increase regulatory cooperation, and enhance safety and capacity-building programs, including training energy regulators, to support Mexico’s energy reform. We will also continue efforts that help our governments meet our climate change goals, including by promoting renewable energy, sharing strategies for low-emission development, and working together through technical cooperation and information exchange on how best to implement our shared climate objectives, before and after 2020. In support of broader regional energy and climate collaboration, Mexico is hosting in 2015 the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas and the Clean Energy Ministerial.
- Deepen regulatory cooperation. Regulatory cooperation can increase economic growth in each country; lower costs for consumers, businesses, producers, and governments; increase trade in goods and services; and improve our ability to protect the environment, health, and safety of our citizens. Our governments have pledged to collaborate in priority areas and continue the work of the High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Council.
- Strengthen and modernize our border. Our governments have agreed to focus not only on the infrastructure and the facilitation of trade and legitimate travel, but also the social, economic, financial, and environmental elements for the adequate development of the region. Also, through complementary processes like the 21st Century Border Management Initiative, our governments have pledged to identify priority projects and reduce bottlenecks at the border.
- Increase educational exchanges and boost workforce development. The U.S. and Mexico created the Bilateral Forum on Education, Innovation, and Research (FOBESII) to increase educational and professional exchange programs, promote joint science and technology research, and spur innovation. FOBESII complements President Obama’s “100,000 Strong in the Americas” initiative, which seeks to increase student mobility between the United States and the countries of the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico. By investing in our citizens, this initiative creates a stronger workforce and regional economy for the benefit of both of our nations.
- Support transparency and anti-corruption efforts. We support measures to enhance government transparency, including under the global Open Government Partnership, chaired this year by both the Mexican government and civil society. In 2015, we will continue to work with our OGP partners around the world to support advances in open government, open budgeting, access to information, transparency and anti-corruption. This includes support for government efforts to implement commitments contained in their OGP National Action Plans.
- Promote entrepreneurship and innovation. The U.S. Department of State and the Mexican National Entrepreneurship Institute (INADEM) launched the Mexican-U.S. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC) to foster the role that entrepreneurship and innovation play in economic growth. The goal of this unique, binational public-private partnership is to enhance regional competitiveness by boosting North America’s high-impact entrepreneurship ecosystem.
- Promote investment. Investment promotion agencies on both sides of the border – SelectUSA and ProMéxico – are building on their agreement signed in 2014. They have started to share information and collaborate at investment promotion events in order to leverage our shared economic strength to achieve competitive advantage in the global marketplace.
- Promote women’s economic empowerment. Both governments recognize women’s empowerment and economic participation are essential for competitiveness. When promoting entrepreneurship, educational exchange, or regional competitiveness, Mexico and the U.S. have integrated gender as a top program priority.
The HLED has produced tangible results. We have initialed an air transport agreement which will benefit travelers, shippers, airlines, and the economies of both countries with competitive pricing and more convenient air service. Our two countries have increased cooperation to more efficiently manage our telecommunications systems. Infrastructure improvements at the border have cut wait times significantly for people crossing into the United States at San Diego, CA, and Nogales, AZ. We signed an agreement for mutual recognition of our “trusted trader” programs to ease the flow of goods across borders and we signed a Memorandum of Intent to promote investment. Together we created the Bilateral Forum for Higher Education, Innovation and Research (FOBESII), which held a series of six workshops that included over 450 stakeholders from government, private, and academic spheres – all working to propel the studies and careers of hundreds of students and professionals. With academia and the private sector, we facilitated sending more than 27,000 Mexican students and teachers to the United States in 2014 and signed 23 new bilateral education agreements. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding to begin a consular exchange program between our foreign ministries. We formed the Mexico-U.S. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC) and held events designed to improve access to finance for businesses and launched entrepreneurship training sessions. We connected Small Business Networks in Mexico and the United States to share innovative practices and support entrepreneurs on both sides of the border.
These actions are only the beginning, and 2015 promises to be another successful year for the HLED. With the HLED, we prosper together.