U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden each met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in order to discuss the economic relationship between the two nations, as well as how to speed up trans-Pacific trade negotiations.
The North American leaders developed the United States-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) in 2013 in order to have a platform for creating economic initiatives designed to improve the relationship between Mexico and the U.S. and boost each country's productivity. The first meeting took place in Mexico City in September 2013, and the second was held earlier this month in Washington, D.C.
"The two countries are closely tied. Because of this, they work closely on a number of initiatives in order to find binational solutions to challenges facing both nations."
The two countries are closely tied, with over $500 billion in bilateral trade and more than $100 billion in cross-border investment. Because of this, they work closely on a number of initiatives in order to find binational solutions to challenges facing both nations. One notable issue that both Mexico and the U.S. face is the resolution of Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. Both nations are significant players in the discussions, which are nearing their end – the reason why it was so important for Nieto, Biden and Obama to speak about the TPP.
The two countries in a joint statement noted how much progress the 12 TPP participants have made since negotiations started, explaining that the HLED would be utilized to determine strategies for a swift end to TPP negotiations. The other countries involved in the partnership discussions are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia and Japan. Despite the fact that the two countries made it known that the TPP would be a subject during the binational forum earlier this month, neither Obama nor Nieto made mention of the Pacific trade discussions during speeches following the HLED.
In addition to the meetings between Nieto, Biden and Obama, the Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal recently met with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to discuss the role of the two nations and how they relate to each other in the TPP. Each official noted the importance of finding a balance between the needs of the U.S. and those of Mexico as negotiations for the Pacific trade deal come closer to a close.
Despite the benefits of the NAFTA-like deal being touted by officials, the populations of Mexico and U.S. don't view the TPP favorably. Recent research found that of the TPP negotiators, Mexico was among the most opposed to the deal, with just 43 percent of Mexican respondents indicating a belief that the TPP would increase employment. Additionally, only 31 percent said the agreement would increase wages, and a mere 24 percent expressed the belief that the TPP would lower prices.
A number of other important economic initiatives were also part of the binational summit. For example, railroad service was noted in the two country's joint statement as another topic of conversation. Soon, a new stretch of rail between the towns of Matamoros and Brownsville will help further trade between the two countries. It is the first cross-border length of rail to be built in nearly 100 years. Mexico recently passed rail reforms, and the stretch that runs through Matamoros is part of a project portfolio that also includes a railyard, terminal buildings, a railway bridge and an overpass for cars.
Another topic of discussion for the two countries was Cuba. In the latter half of last year, Obama made an announcement that he would make efforts to ease some trade restrictions on Cuba as part of a plan to improve the relationship between the two nations. Mexico has often been a proponent of the communist country long at-odds with the U.S.
As the two countries work toward a speedy ending to the TPP negotiations, their relationship regarding trade seems fairly healthy. Obama recently backed Nieto, who has fallen upon rough times as president, while the Mexican leader recently published an explanation of why the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico is so vital.