Drugs, Human Rights, Trade, and Distrust: The Evolution of U.S.-Mexican Relations

11/10/2015 By Tom Long, War on the Rocks

President Obama visits Mexico President Enrique Pena NietoLast month, citing human rights concerns, the United States quietly withheld about $5 million in counternarcotics assistance for Mexico. The State Department declined to certify that Mexico met conditions imposed on the aid by Congress under the Leahy Amendment, triggering the 15-percent reduction in funding for Mexican security agencies. Though more than $140 million of other U.S. funding will continue to flow, the decision — first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by a deputy spokesman at the State Department — was cheered by human rights advocates. A senior official at Human Rights Watch told The New York Times that the cut was “unprecedented.”

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The Senate Has Delayed Confirming an Ambassador to Mexico. America Needs One Now.

11/5/2015 The National Interest

By Duncan Wood and Andrew Selee, Wilson Center

mexican-flag1The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has been without an ambassador since July. It’s not all that unusual for an embassy to be vacant for a few months, but then again, this is not a usual relationship. Not only is this one of the largest U.S. embassies in the world, but it is the hub for managing one of our country’s most complex and important relationships, and one that has tangible value for millions of Americans in their daily life.

To begin with, Mexico and the United States trade over a half-trillion dollars’ worth of goods and services a year, or more than a million dollars a minute, only slightly behind Canada and China as America’s third-largest commercial relationship. What’s more, Mexico is the United States’ second-biggest export market, ahead of China, and people in twenty-seven states—from Texas and Arizona to Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, and even New Hampshire—depend on Mexico as the first or second destination for exports produced in their state. Around six million U.S. jobs are closely tied to exports to Mexico.

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What does agreement on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) mean?

10/7/2015 Wilson Center

By Diana Villiers Negroponte, Mexico Institute Advisory Board Member

On October 4, the 12 trading partners in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) reached agreement after tough negotiations lasting 7 years. [1] The final hurdles on intellectual property protection for pharmaceuticals, market access for dairy products and rules of origin for automobiles were resolved at the recent meeting in Atlanta.  (In 2008, President Bush joined the trade negotiations which had started with 3 nations in 2002). The sense of relief is notable, but TTP must still be approved by the U.S. Congress. All 12 countries need U.S. leadership on this major trade agreement and all made concessions to keep the U.S. in the game.  For the United States to reject TPP because of pressure from the tobacco, pharmaceutical or any other specific industrial group would indicate American reluctance to play a leadership role in the world.  The 11 other parties to TPP are watching the U.S. Congress closely. Will it accept this agreement impacting countries that account for 40% of global GDP and 26% of world trade, or will it withdraw into domestic partisan fights and ignore the global impact?

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Texas Gov. Abbott to Visit Mexico to Mend Fences, Talk Trade Amid Strained Ties

8/25/2015 The Dallas Morning News

Greg_Abbott_by_Gage_SkidmoreGov. Greg Abbott is expected to visit Mexico City on Labor Day weekend, his first trip abroad as governor, and will lead a delegation of Texans eager to move forward amid turbulent times between once-solid neighbors, The Dallas Morning News has learned.

The agenda is still being fleshed out for the first trip to Mexico by a Texas governor since 2007, but people familiar with the matter say the visit is aimed at mending fences and underscoring the economic, cultural and political integration between Texas and its southern neighbor, an important trading partner.

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Mexico’s Justice System At A Crossroads

06/29/15 Forbes

Aflag StarrGazrs an emerging market, Mexico has tremendous appeal. Its huge volume of trade with the United States, combined recent reforms in the telecommunications and energy sectors, means opportunities abound for savvy investors. But severe challenges remain. Pervasive corruption adds layers of risk to any business venture. Corruption has also hamstrung the nation’s justice system—and which many observers blame for Mexico’s intractable security challenges.

To date, reform efforts have languished. A series of constitutional and legislative reforms passed in 2008 sought to overhaul the justice system and root out corruption, but they have yet to be fully implemented. The 2008 reforms set a 2016 deadline for defining new criminal procedures and new duties for law enforcement and public agencies. Last year the government cleared an important hurdle with the passage of a unified criminal code, but much more work remains. With little less than a year to go, the fate of justice reform in Mexico appears quite uncertain.

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Upcoming Event! NAFTA and the Strengthening of the Mexican Economy

NAFTAWHEN: Monday, June 29, 2:00-3:30pm

WHERE: 5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC

Click here to RSVP. 

Two decades ago, Canada, Mexico, and the United States created a continental economy. Since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico has lived through a currency crisis, a democratic transition, and the rising challenge of Asian manufacturing. Many of the dynamics of North America today, from Mexico’s reform agenda to continental concerns about competitiveness, have their roots in the conditions that produced NAFTA, in the agreement itself, and in the tremendous transformations it wrought. Looking back at that period provides context for understanding today’s reforms. Today, Mexico’s competitiveness agenda, championed by President Enrique Peña Nieto and widely supported by the Mexican Congress, includes specific actions oriented toward promoting larger inflows of foreign investment by opening strategic economic sectors to private participation. This package of reforms would bring a sweeping transformation of the economy.

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute is pleased to invite you to an event on NAFTA and the Mexican economy. Jaime Serra Puche will present his book NAFTA and the Building of a Region. An Essay from the Mexican Perspective and Lucy Conger will present her paper on Mexican competitiveness, A Mandate for Mexico. Ambassador Carla A. Hills will provide commentary on both publications, in relation to the broader subjects of NAFTA and the Mexican economy.


Jaime Serra Puche
Chairman, SAI Law and Economics

Ambassador Carla A. Hills
Chair and CEO, Hills & Company, International Consultants

Lucy Conger
Independent Journalist


Duncan Wood
Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Click here to RSVP. There will be a live webcast of this event.

Canada, Mexico push for $3 billion in sanctions against U.S

06/05/15 Reuters

canada mexicoCanada and Mexico will seek World Trade Organization authorization to impose over $3 billion in sanctions against U.S. exports in retaliation against contentious meat-labeling laws, the two nations said on Thursday.

U.S. legislators have signaled they plan to repeal the 2009 laws, which Canada and Mexico says makes their meat products more expensive.

In May, the WTO upheld an earlier ruling that country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rules illegally discriminate against imported livestock from Canada and Mexico, rejecting a U.S. appeal.

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