U.S. Presidential Election 2012 Analysis from the Mexico Institute: Security, Trade, Bilateral Relationship, Immigration

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute is pleased to share with you the following analysis on the implications of the 2012 U.S. Presidential Elections for the U.S.-Mexico Relationship. Select pieces offer an overview of U.S.-Mexico Relations, insights into the future of an Obama-Peña Nieto relationship, reflections on the continued positive trends in U.S.-Mexico Trade, and an analysis of the Latino Electorate and immigration in the 2012 elections. Each piece is available separately below or you can download the full  PDF here.

U.S.-Mexico Relations Under President Obama’s Second Term– By Andrew D. Selee

Obama and Peña Nieto Under President Obama’s Second Term– By Duncan Wood

US-Mexico Trade Under President Obama’s Second Term– By Christopher E. Wilson

Immigration and the Latino Electorate Under President Obama’s Second Term– By Miguel R. Salazar

For a link to the PDF document visit http://bit.ly/electionsimpact

Join Us Monday July 16th for an Event on How to Build a 21st Century Border

To RSVP click here.

We cordially invite you to a discussion on developing efficient and secure border management strategies. As one of the architects of the 21st Century Border initiative, Alan Bersin, Assistant Secretary of International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer for the Department of Homeland Security, will deliver a keynote address. Our panel will then seek to identify the key challenges and opportunities regarding both the security and economic dimensions of border management.

For more info visit our event page here.

Can’t make it to the event? Watch the Live webcast here.

Questions at the border

The Economist, 6/12/2012

The border between America and Mexico is perhaps best known for the illegal trade and people passing though it. But the growth in legitimate things crossing over is the far bigger story.

The study, by Erik Lee and Christopher E. Wilson of the Border Research Partnership, produces two interesting charts. The problem is that they present a puzzling discrepency.

Read more…

AL DÍA:Traveling the Texas-Mexico Border

2/28/2012, Eric Olson and Chris Wilson of the Mexico Institute are currently driving the  Texas-Mexico border, beginning in El Paso/Ciudad Juarez, ending in Brownsville/Matamoros, and blogging along the way.

Day 7. Thoughts from Nuevo Laredo and Laredo: We’ve met with several people working in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo over the past two days, and it is clear that trade here is very different than trade in the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez area. While Nuevo Laredo does have approximately 45 Maquiladoras, the main industry in both Laredo’s is transportation.

The World Trade Bridge has more truck traffic than any other US port of entry, and the vast majority of it transports goods between the interiors of each country. On I-35 north of Laredo, the number of commercial trucks almost matches the number of passenger vehicles. The highway to Monterrey is similarly important on the Mexican side.

The amount of commerce passing through this area is incredible–and growing. While the World Trade Bridge seems well managed, the shear volume of traffic means that long lines of trucks can appear very quickly. Flexibility in staffing levels and inspection techniques, in conjunction with the use of technology, are important tools to address waves of traffic.

Perhaps most important, though, is the use of risk segmentation, or risk management. Based on the information received both in advance of a shipment and at the point of primary inspection, a CBP officer must quickly make a determination regarding whether or not to refer a truck to secondary inspection. In addition to physical signs of nervousness, red flags for the officer could include things like the type of commodity, the route the driver is traveling, the identity of the carrier, and the identity of the importer. In addition to finding information that could increase an officer’s suspicion regarding a load, there are also ways to increase confidence. Companies and carriers can enroll in programs like CTPAT and FAST, voluntarily offering extra information to authorities and taking measures to improve the security of their loads. In exchange for providing the information, they are ushered through the inspection process more quickly (unless the officer finds some sort of anomaly). Right now, about 25% of the trucks coming through Laredo have FAST–increasing this number would facilitate legitimate trade while allowing CBP to focus its efforts on finding illicit trade.

Despite intense fighting between the Zetas and the military in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, the local economy is still moving. The Maquiladora industry recovered jobs lost during the recent recession and are expected to add more jobs in 2012. Mexican importers, exporters, and those in logistics all continue to work, but a large portion now do so from the US side of the border. Research has shown that the provision of basic services in Nuevo Laredo, such as trash collection, declined significantly over the past two years, signalling a declining population.

The contrast between growing trade and industry on the one hand and still high levels of organized crime and violence on the other is sharp. It leads one to wonder just how dynamic the region could be without violence and a weak rule of law slowing it down.

–Chris Wilson

AL DÍA: Traveling the Texas-Mexico Border


Eric Olson and Chris Wilson of the Mexico Institute are currently driving the entirety of the Texas-Mexico border, beginning in El Paso/Ciudad Juarez, ending in Brownsville/Matamoros, and blogging along the way.

Day One, 1st Entry: Eric and I are on our way to El Paso, where we meet up with Erik Lee of Arizona State’s North American Center for Transborder Studies (NACTS) and begin our research trip. We will be in the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez area through the end of the work week, discussing issues of border management, regional security, trade, and economic development at meetings with local, state and federal officials, as well as business and civil society leaders.

While the ultimate goal of this trip is to help inform a forthcoming project we are working on with NACTS and COLEF called The State of the Border Report, we hope you find these blog entries an interesting and useful way to get an on-the-ground look at some of the major border management and border region issues.

New Publication “Working Together: Economic Ties between the United States and Mexico”

The Mexico Institute is pleased to present its newest publication, Working Together: Economic Ties between the United States and Mexico. The report looks at the ways in which regional economic cooperation can enhance competitiveness, stimulate growth and create jobs.

Mexico already buys more U.S. products than any other nation except Canada, but more than just an export market, Mexico and the United States are partners in manufacturing. Through a process known as production sharing, the two countries actually work together to build products.

Imports from Mexico are therefore unlike imports from any extra-continental partner in the way they support U.S. jobs and exports. A full 40% of the content in U.S. imports from Mexico is actually produced in the United States (See page 17 of the report).

There is no doubt that the economies of the United States and Mexico are facing serious challenges. While some of the risk is due to external pressures, whether increasing competition from Asia or fears of crisis in Europe, much of the solution lies in strengthening regional competitiveness. The path forward, then, must be based in a clear understanding that the United States and Mexico are ultimately partners rather than competitors.

Read more… or Download the Full Report

AL DÍA: Protections End on 204 Chinese Products

Reforma, 12/12/2011

Camisas deportivas, velas, bicicletas, hilos de poliéster, suéteres, tenis, zapatos tipo industrial y licuadoras, entre 204 productos diferentes, producidos en China podrán entrar a México desde hoy sin pagar ninguna medida remedial.

Hasta este día, y luego de 4 años en las que estos artículos estuvieron protegidos por medidas de transición luego de un esquema de cuotas compensatorias que duró otros seis años, los productos pagaban una cuota adicional ad valorem de 25 por ciento en el caso más bajo y hasta de 350 por ciento en el más alto. Read more…

The Mexico Institute’s Christopher Wilson commented on this topic in the latest edition of the Inter-American Dialogue’s Latin America Advisor:

Since joining the WTO, China’s share of Mexican imports rose from 2% in 2001 to 15% in September of 2011. Expect this trend to continue when Mexico’s tariffs on 204 products drop to most-favored-nation rates this month, making Chinese imports of those goods significantly cheaper. The vast majority of affected products are consumer goods like clothing, shoes and toys. For these, consumers are likely to benefit from lower prices while manufacturers are challenged to either increase productivity or go out of business. There is little doubt that Mexico’s footwear industry, in particular, will be significantly weakened. A few of the affected products are intermediate goods, such as chemicals, fabrics, and mechanical parts. Reducing tariffs on these goods will challenge their domestic producers, but should also decrease costs for manufacturers using them as inputs. Although Chinese exports probably benefit from a certain degree of artificial and unfair advantage, Chinese manufacturers of goods like garments and shoes also tend to outcompete their Mexican counterparts. Mexico must take measures to increase productivity, shift to higher-skill industries, and engage rather than shy away from the rising Asian economies. Finally, the lower tariffs may also have a positive side effect, working as a disincentive to the tariff evading techniques, such as incorrectly classifying goods or sending them through third countries, that are used by some Chinese exporters.