Mexico & the United States: Let’s Build Prosperity & Security

By Earl Anthony Wayne and Sergio M. Alcocer

12642332434_f5a427c4ea_zPresident Obama will receive Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto July 22 in Washington.  This is a critical opportunity to highlight the importance of U.S.-Mexico ties, to underscore the substantial progress in cooperation, and to accentuate how the campaign rhetoric in the United States is out of tune with the reality of relations.  With the U.S. election approaching, it is crucial to take steps to preserve the unprecedented U.S.-Mexico collaboration that exists today.

U.S.-Mexico relations touch the daily lives of more citizens of both countries than do ties with any other country in the world.  Over 30 million U.S. citizens of Mexican heritage, our interconnected economies, the 1,990-mile border and our shared environment link us uniquely.  The two governments have established a comprehensive network of mechanisms that put bilateral relations in the best place they have been in memory.  Officials work together to take advantage of mutual opportunities and to solve shared problems across a wide spectrum of issues, with input from “stakeholders” in the relationship.

There is still a lot of serious work to do to address the problems out there and to take advantage of the opportunities of the region.   Each government has experienced professional ambassadors and teams in place to help guide the work during the U.S. leadership transition.  But, simplistic explanations of the problems or solutions distract us from the good work underway and the hard work still needed to deal with the serious challenges ahead.  As the United States prepares for a presidential transition, the two countries should solidify the mechanisms and engagements that are doing the hard, policy and technical work of enhancing both of our nations’ economic and national security.  These include the High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED), the 21st Century Border process, the bilateral Security Coordination Group, and the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation and Research (FOBESSII).  The U.S.-Mexico relationship is too important for both countries not to continue this work.

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Mexico Institute Materials on Anti-Corruption Efforts

Security and the Rule of LawOn Monday, as President Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law a new anti-corruption system, he apologized for a damaging conflict of interest scandal in 2014 surrounding his wife’s purchase of a $7m luxury home from a government contractor, an episode that hurt the Mexican people’s faith in the presidency and the government. “For this reason, with all humility I ask your forgiveness,” he said. “I reiterate my sincere and profound apology for the offense and indignation I have caused you.”

In light of the ratification of the anti-corruption reform, I would like to share with you our recent work on anti-corruption efforts in Mexico.


Duncan Wood
Director, Mexico Institute


Mexico Wins: Anti-Corruption Reform Approved

Fighting Corruption in Mexico

Mexico Today: Analyzing the Country’s Reforms

Mexico’s Reforms and the Prospects for Growth

Mexican Civil Society’s Battle against Corruption: #Ley3de3

Mexico: The Fight Against Corruption

How to Make Mexico More Competitive: More Corporate Ethics & State Efficiency, Less Corruption

Mexico’s Battle Against Corruption

Mexico Corruption Perception Index 2015

Corruption, A Central Issue in the Campaigns

The Mexican State and Anti-Corruption Efforts

Additionally, check out our recent work on rule of law in Mexico.

The Problem of Power: Mexico Requires a New System of Government

Book Launch | The Problem of Power: Mexico Requires a New System of Government

Mexico and the United States: Combating Illicit Finance Together

Mexico Security Review 2016: Assessing the Outlook for the Rule of Law

A Mexican Utopia: Book Launch & Discussion of the Rule of Law in Mexico

A Mexican Utopia: The Rule of Law is Possible

A Way to Restore Mexico’s Trust Deficit

Four Rule of Law Policies to Make Mexico Grow

The Mexican State and Transparency

The State of Citizen Security in Mexico: 2014 in Review and the Year Ahead

Mexico Wins: Anti-Corruption Reform Approved

7/12/2016 The Expert Take, By Viridiana Rios

expert I (2)Mexico just approved an anti-corruption reform that required changing 14 constitutional articles, drafting 2 new general laws, and reforming five more. This is not minor. The reform is, by far, the most encompassing system to identify and sanction corruption that the country has ever had and its effects will be felt quite soon.

In this text, I present the story of how Mexico got here and provide an assessment of the virtues and challenges of this change.

The Government tries to fight corruption

The need to create an entity to fight corruption was among Mexico’s policy priorities, at least rhetorically, since well before the arrival of Enrique Peña Nieto to the presidency.  However, the first of the 266 commitments that Peña Nieto had made during his campaign was to create a “National Anti-Corruption Commission” (NAC).

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Mexico’s Special Economic Zones: White Elephants?

By Viridiana Rios, Global Fellow, Mexico Institute

expert I (2)In June 2016, Mexico enacted a federal law to create Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in four of the poorest regions of the country. The initiative aims to reduce the markedly unequal levels of economic development inside Mexico, with a set of wealthy, internationally connected northern states, and an agricultural south that seems mired in perpetual underdevelopment.

Mexico will create its first Mexican SEZ in the Pacific port of Lázaro Cárdenas, on the border of the states of Michoacán and Guerrero, and the other three will follow at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (Veracruz and Oaxaca states), Puerto Chiapas (Chiapas), and the Coatzacoalcos Corridor /Ciudad del Carmen (Campeche). The goal is to have at least one “anchor firm” operating in each SEZ by 2018, the last year of the current administration.

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North America Must Compete Globally

6/28/2016 Forbes

By Earl Anthony Wayne and Gary Hufbauer

NAFTAContrary to campaign rhetoric, the integration of North America over the past quarter century has successfully grown the continental economy and enabled it to compete in global markets. And, in North America this has been done without the centralized institutions that UK voters just rejected. The June 29 North American Leaders’ Summit in Ottawa offers an opportunity to launch even smarter collaboration across Canada, Mexico, and the United States that respects the sovereignty of each partner. President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and President Enrique Peña Nieto can approve a range of actions to make the North American economy more competitive and productive in the years ahead.

North American trade networks and continental investment ties have generated millions of jobs. North America is the best performing continent among advanced countries. But it still needs to create more and better jobs. Economic growth is too slow and productivity is far below par. An ambitious work agenda coming from the Leaders’ Summit can help boost the three economies.

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North America’s Big Agenda

6/29/2016 The News

By Earl Anthony Wayne, Mexico Institute Public Policy Fellow

When Presidents Enrique Peña Nieto and Barack Obama join Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on June 29 at the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS), they will have two big tasks: First, to explain why cooperation between the three countries is of great value; and second, to approve an action agenda that will produce good results for economic growth, mutual security, the environment and international cooperation.

Since Mexico hosted the “Three Amigos” Summit in 2014, the U.S. political debate has turned critical of cooperation across the continent, spiced with toxic rhetoric aimed at Mexico. The leaders will meet as the U.K. vote has shaken the EU’s model of deep cooperation, and as all three North American economies need more growth and better performance. At the same time, collaboration and understanding between the three governments has improved significantly, and the connectivity between the economies has deepened. Mexican, Canadian and U.S. trade totals $1.2 trillion a year, with over $850 billion invested by the three countries in their neighbors’ economies, and the non-economic cooperation is vast.

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The Business Community is the Driving Force Behind North America’s Economic Strength

6/29/2016 The Hill

By Earl Anthony Wayne & Jodi Bond

On June 29, President Obama, Prime Minister Trudeau, and President Peña Nieto will meet in Ottawa for a North American Leaders Summit (NALS). While often ignored or criticized, America’s relations with Canada and Mexico touch the daily lives of more U.S. citizens than any other relationships in the world.  Positive, productive relations among neighbors will help generate the well-being and economic growth our citizens seek. What’s more important, we can now justifiably say that the peoples of the three countries are partners in ways that have never before been seen. In Ottawa, North America’s leaders can show the way to a more prosperous continent and seek to partner with the many stakeholders who stand to gain, especially the private sector that created today’s interconnected North American economy.

Despite the critics in the news, the U.S. has tens of millions of North America stakeholders. They range from the businesses and their employees who build and sell across the continent to the civil society groups who champion shared causes, and to the many citizens with family and heritage ties that cross our borders. These citizens have a direct interest in how well North America’s neighbors work together to grow our economies, guard our societies, and protect our shared environment. The work of the three leaders and government teams will be strengthened if they bring these stakeholders closer to the process of defining what Mexico, Canada and the U.S. do together.

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