By Andrew Selee & Christopher Wilson, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Andrew Selee is the vice president for programs at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a senior adviser for the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center. Christopher Wilson is an associate for the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center. The views expressed are their own.
U.S.-Mexico relations have been dominated for the past six years by efforts to address drug trafficking and organized crime-related violence. This was the right thing to do while violence spiked in Mexico, but with a new administration in office after the swearing in of President Enrique Peña Nieto over the weekend, the time has come to re-balance the bilateral relationship.
Ties tend to have the same top three items on the agenda year after year and administration after administration: immigration; drugs and violence; and trade and economic relations. Drugs and violence have dominated in recent years, and cooperation in addressing the transnational flows of drugs, arms and illicit money, as well as support for Mexico’s efforts to strengthen public security, must continue. Although the gains are still tenuous and the situation fluid, violence in Mexico does appear to have begun to decline at a national level and major advances have been made in key border cities such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez.
Immigration dominated the early 2000's as presidents Bush and Fox sought a bilateral deal on the topic, but it has since become clear that immigration reform is first and foremost a domestic political issue in the United States. The rate of unauthorized immigration from Mexico has now dropped to historically low levels – there are at least as many leaving as arriving – which should allow for a more rational and reasoned debate on this issue in the United States.
More from GPS: Misconceptions about Mexico
However, not since the negotiation and implementation of NAFTA in the 1990s have economic relations topped the bilateral agenda. Trade and jobs should once again top the U.S. agenda with Mexico for three main reasons.
First, the economy most likely will be the top issue in both the United States and Mexico for the next several years. Economic issues were clearly the top issue for voters in the recent U.S. presidential elections, and in Mexico they matched public security as the top set of concerns.
Second, by focusing on the creation of jobs and improving the competitiveness of manufacturers on both sides of the border, we can improve the tone of the relationship. We may even find that the stickier issues of security and migration become a little less intractable.
Finally, the economic agenda between the two countries has the potential to yield tangible results, creating jobs and improving the competitive position of North America vis-a-vis Asia. For years, Mexico has oriented its economy toward the U.S. in hopes of harnessing the growth of the world’s most dynamic economy. Now, at a time when Mexico is growing around four percent a year – faster than the United States – Mexico can return the favor and provide a boost to the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, Mexico’s large and growing middle class has become an increasingly important market for U.S. products.
More from CNN: New president measured against old corruption
As it turns out, U.S. and Mexican companies do not simply sell products to one another, they build products together, with parts zigzagging back and forth across the border as goods are manufactured. As a result, a product imported from Mexico is, on average, made of 40 percent U.S. parts and materials, meaning forty cents of every dollar spent of Mexican imports stays right here in the United States. Chinese products, in contrast, contain just four percent U.S. content.
This also means the competitiveness of our two countries is closely linked, and improvements in productivity in one nation make a co-manufactured product cheaper and more competitive on the global market. That is to say, growth in Mexico or the United States will boost exports from both countries: when it comes to manufacturing, we are in it together.
To produce results, the U.S.-Mexico economic agenda needs substance, and there is plenty to do. To start out, we must make the southwest border more efficient without sacrificing security. Today, long and unpredictable wait times act as a type of border tax, cutting away at manufacturers’ competitiveness a bit more each time they send goods across the border.
Since we manufacture and export together, the United States should also join forces with Mexico and Canada in designing and implementing a global trade strategy. The first step is robust cooperation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, but the end goal must be to expand the agreement until countries like China and India feel they will lose out if they do not join in.
The countries could also tackle ways of making customs procedures more efficient, ensuring regulatory frameworks are compatible, and integrating our transportation and logistics networks to keep up with regional manufacturers, who have already integrated production.
In the end, it is a matter of perspective. If Mexico is seen more as a business partner than a source of intractable problems, a whole range of policy options that were previously considered too risky to be tried will be within reach. If such a change in perception occurs, the results will speak for themselves.
I LOVE BARAK HES AN AMAZING PRESIDENT
STFU you re-tard.. what has he done for this country?
LOL, right on the money, of which he as borrowed so much we will always be in debt, like he wants.
he defeated mittens, so that has to count for something
If nothing else, he upsets you: that's good enough for me.
"Too much tax income is lost by:
1. Illegal immigrants being tolerated and therefore flooding
the labor pool and driving wages down.
2. Jobs being exported with no tariff or trade barrier, often in
operations that operate at a LOSS but then demand tax dollars to fill the gap
3. Monopoly/anti trust laws not being enforced so when businesses
don't dominate they co-operate, creating closed markets, fewer choices and artificially higher prices.
Real simple to fix. Start with #1... No more illegals. Too bad Romney says what works
at the time but means nothing, he had it right, check all employers and fully fine/prosecute/close
down any who hire illegals. We don't need no fence or profiling or original boys in the hood
at the borders, just do that. That'd save as many jobs as the high end "Unemployed".
Oh, you'd not do that kind of work, that's why you went to college?
Well a lot of people used to do that work, and most made a decent living off
of it, till the illegals flooded them out and they forced their kids into college
and same parents went back themselves.
After this the rich bleed like their wrist is cut. Then go for their throats, t
he exporting of jobs. No way shape or form should it be OK to make things
at a loss overseas then scream for "Tax breaks and subsidies" to make it up.
Do these both they collapse, but if they lose everything and close, big deal,
if they did something worthwhile someone will take their place – that's real capitalism.
They have no "Right" to be mega-rich, esp. if they do it at our loss. "
How many still feel Free trade is really possible?
Average worker in China $1.64/ Hr.
Average worker in Tiajuana $1.50/ Hr.
free trade with any country that has a significant wage difference than the US is
simply not a system designed to the benefit of the majority of americans.
the benefits are very limited while the pain is spread across all manufacturing sectors.
We dont have free trade with China but we have a tremendous imbalance.
they pay us between 8 and 14 percent to export to us and we pay a
15 percent MFN tax plus a 17 percent vat to them to export.
chinese companies also get a vat rebate from the chinese government when they export.
net result: they pay at least 18 percent less (not 18% less tax. 18% less of the total gross.
percentage-wise we pay more than 100% more tax) to export to us in taxes.
Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has soft-pedaled her
opposition to the minimum wage law considerably
since 2005, when she was quoted as saying, at a
Minnesota State Senate hearing, “Literally, if we took away the
minimum wage — if conceivably it was gone —
we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely
because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.”
So then Adults would find lots of jobs available along
with teens but what adult would be able to live
on lots of choices of jobs at $4.00 an hour?
I take it Miguel has never owned or operated a business.
I can't believe the tasteless comments posted here.
Most fall short of making an intelligent point.
You call yourselves American?
.......be clear and highlight a concern. Show mutual respect.
Nieto needs Obama's help to combat drug cartels. He has pledged no return to the PRI's pre-2000 policy of tolerating drug cartels in return for civil peace, and has announced plans to establish a special paramilitary police force to fight the drug barons alongside a stronger army presence.
Well, you're not helping to improve anyone's opinion of his average supporter.
every dictator has supporters it's how they stay in power
Dictator? Really? Was GWB a dictator as well?
How does that dictate, pretty salty? Or like onions?
This POTUS is a piece of S*&t. Allowing our agents into Mexico without the ability to defend themselves because Mexico law does not allow them to carry weapons. What kind of garbage president would allow our people in that cest pool called Mexico under these kind of rules knowing the Mexican Police are corrupt.
"Cest pool" REALLY? Where did you go to school? Guatemala? (and I don't mean to insult Guatemalans, since they don't speak or write in English, they woulnd't know how to spell it, let alone know the meaning of the word CESSPOOL) And you call yourself American? No wonder other countries in the world are doing so much better than the US. when its own citizens don't even know how to spell.
GO BACK TO SCHOOL where they'll teach you that and also you might learn that even though you have the right of free speech, you should not insult the POTUS.
That's why he was reelected and the republican was humiliated. To find a republican president who was loved you have to go back a long way.
What is there to love about the token swirl Muslim who wants amnesty for all illegals.
Obama is great at giving the United States tax payers money--Nov. 19-he pledged $170 billion to Burma (Mayanmar ) to help their economic development.–What about New York and New Jersey.
"we should not provide incentives for illegal immigrants to violate our
laws. Many people want to come to America to take advantage of the
economic opportunity here, but we should not enable — much less accept —
illegal immigration. We must do all we can to reduce it and work to
eradicate it. For example, while current law forbids one from receiving
Social Security payments if here illegally, it does allow one’s entire
work history — even work history as an illegal alien — to be counted
toward Social Security benefits if the individual later becomes legal.
That is patently unfair to those who respect and work within the law,
and I support legislation to correct this injustice and forbid work done
illegally from counting towards future benefits."
Boy, what a spin: illegal immigration is now ok because the flow of illegals across the border is now the same going both ways... liberal hypocrisy has no bounds, if they REALLY cared about the human suffering that results from the illegal immigration they'd be screaming loudest of all to stop it. This article is pie-in-the-sky optimism predictably motivated by the Mexican election. A better article would try to wake people up in this country by not telling them how nice it would be if we work with Mexico better, but what a h-hole this country is going to be if we DON'T work better with Mexico. We can't have a 3rd world h-hole country on our border and not eventually get dragged down with them. This is one of the biggest threats to this country right now and has to be dealt with. Illegal immigration and the human suffering of the illegals is just part of this problem, but liberals are all to happy to let that go on...
I've watched Fareed for a year now and he tries to hide his liberal blindness, but articles like this that say ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION is OK now because it's a lot less than it was 5 years ago give him away. It's just like the WAR on drugs- if libs really cared, they'd focus on WHY so many want to get high, treat the issue not the symptom, duh! They wanna smoke they dope to escape memories of uncle fester touching their boomboom or mommy beating them or daddy not being there.
For me, it is the only thing I look forward to after a long pointless day at work.
Helps me forget all the lost hours of my life doing things I'd rather not do.
Wow Bob, you are so off the mark. Mexico's economy is the third or fourth fastest growing in the world (not my words but Time magazine and WSJ) and the tide of illegals moving back to Mexico actually has been outpacing the tide coming into the US for about three years now because their economy is going so good. It is unfortunate that the drug war gets all the press because the majority of it's citizens are attending university and moving the country ahead at a rapid pace.
As usual, someone like Bob has all the wrong answers with knee jerk reactions to something he (or she) knows nothing about but feels qualified to give his or her opinion. Isn't the internet great? Gives a voice to the bigot, liar and cheat.
@DaveC – My wheels came to a grinding halt after read your comment. You forget to mention that part of the reason illegals are going back is directly due to the fact that the Federal Government has been cracking down on illegals for the last, what 3 years?
The only way the violence in Mexico will improve is if; a) the Mexican government curves corruption and b) the wealth distribution is not held by a few Mexican families. Could this happen? Possibly. Will it happen? I'm sorry but highly unlikely. Corruption is a norm in Mexican politics and wealthy Mexicans (like Carlos Slim) do not want to spread their wealth. The economy in Mexico might be one of the fastest growing right now, but this will have little impact on the long term improvement in the life of ordinary Mexicans.
"You forget to mention that part of the reason illegals are going back is directly due to the fact that the Federal Government has been cracking down on illegals for the last, what 3 years?"
Bingo! It's the limousine corporate Republicans who need cheap house servants and farm laborers.
Absolutely the Obama administration has been cracking down on illegals, Which Obama bashers seem incapable of understanding.
Absolutely Ray; I lived in Mexico for 25 years and the most salient factor is indeed corruption at all levels. Now that the PRI is back in power, so will corruption and injustice. There is no local police, they make very little money and can easily be bought, 50% of the population is still very poor and the middle class is hurting badly with fuel prices sky high thanks to a giant monopoly called PEMEX. Politicians only respond to kickbacks, here it's called lobbying, and judges reach financial compromises with criminals. As long the law is ignored, Mexico will only be a mirage of prosperity.
Yes, and much of that growth, according to the Washington Post, is due to returning illegal aliens who bring back money and education they gained while living here illegally. All the more reason to step up enforcement of the law and deportations–it benefits Mexico's economy.
When we eliminate the negative stigma of people who were on this continent long before America became a country... then we can beging a respectful dialogue and perhaps even a positive binational relationship with Mexico – it's inevitable fruitful rewards await both great countries!
"Mexicans" are of HISPANIC and mixed ancestry and in fact, the indigenous peoples you refer to are badly treated by Mexicans.
You are incorrect. Most Mexicans are descended from the indigenous peoples who inhabited Mexico for hundreds of years. Some of them are mixed with people of Spanish (Hispanic) origin.
And Mexicans are not indigenous to what is now the United States. At least, not any more so than Americans in general.
Do you know the real meaning of American? Look where Mexico is located before you talk!
@Ace – The US became an independent country in 1783. Mexico became an independent country in 1810. What does your comment "When we eliminate the negative stigma of people who were on this continent long before America became a country" have anything to do with this topic? Perhaps you should read over your history books.
Allow me to explain it to you. The part of the world named America was discovered by Spain. Yes, I know Colombus was supposedly an Italian (though Italy did not exist as a country), but the ships he sailed on carried the Spanish Flag, were crewed by Spaniards and financed by the Spanish Crown. After the discovery, the "New World" was settled by Spaniards, including many parts of what is now the US. More than a few of us have ancestors that reached "America" over a century before the Pilgrims and hundreds of years before those of many of the bigots curently ranting about illegals. In many cases, because of intermarriage, we also have relatives who were here before recorded history.
TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership, is a corporate scheme initiated by the US that actually gives their board of directors power over sovereign laws. An American state might not like what TPP is doing, say toward climate change. Tough break, TPP rules all, or some hope so, like the author of this article, Hillary Clinton of course, and the usual lockstep beltway establishment, incl Congress..
. The rate of unauthorized immigration from Mexico has now dropped to historically low levels – there are at least as many leaving as arriving – which should allow for a more rational and reasoned debate on this issue in the United States.
------–One would think from this that Mexico is the ONLY country sending illegal aliens here. It's not even the only Latin country doing so. And many of those coming through Mexico are not Latinos, but Chinese, Arabs, and about any nationality you can imagine. Not to mention, about 40% of illegal aliens are visa overstays. By the way, recent reports from Customs report illegal entries from Mexico are on the upswing, not surprising after DACA and all the talk about amnesty. In fact, entries by unaccompanied minors started increasing dramatically in the first quarter of this year, not so coincidentally after Obama's push for the Dream Act in his State of the Union address.
I agree with most of the points of this article. Although, I think the uncontrolled immigration to the U.S. from Mexico has much greater implications than the writers seem to think. A better economy in Mexico will reduce the need for people in that country to seek opportunities in the U.S. I think fewer restrictions on trade between the two countries will be good, but we've been working toward that anyway with the giant NAFTA superhighway...
well, Calderon's administration left the Mexican government with a balanced budget, no debt, 200 billion dollars in reserves, universal health care system, a growing econony, a civil war against cartels, 60,000 dead, and 10 million more people under the poverty line ....... there is planty here for liberals and conservatives to complaint, but Mexico is not a sh..hole as many go around saying......here is the problem for the US, China is investing big bucks in Mexico and the rest of Latinamerica so, the US seems to be heading to lose its biggest comercial partner to the chinese and that won't be good at all for us.....so stop that bs bigotry and lets get Mexico and LA on board on the US side before it is too late
Not a sh.. hole? Have you been to Mexico? The rural poor parts?
Have you been to some of the poor poverty dominated areas in the US, such as poor urban areas filled with people living in subpar conditions, homeless people on the streets, rampant drug crime? What about all the rural areas of the US where people have lived in a constant state of poverty and are now fighting a huge meth problem? Mexico hardly has the market cornered on poverty and having some crime ridden neighborhoods areas. Some of you suburban Republicans need to get your heads out of the clouds about the US.
My reply to you is this. have you been to the poorer sections of the USA? The reason Mexico has a rural problem is that their central government is busy taking care of themselves. Mexico is going back intom the hole now that PRI is back, everyone i know in Mexico said that this election drives them back to the stoneage.
Another thing, there are NO indigenous humans from this side of the planet. Even those that call themselves indigenous to North or Central America are not. Humans came here from Asia.
I pose this question/idea in earnest: Since the US is on track to legalize marijuana in the next 5-10 years wouldnt it make economic sense for Mexico to legalize and grow it as well? Then when the insatiable US demand for marijuana is legal Mexico could become the chief exporter. Benefiting both Mexico with a stronger economy and the US with ties to a more economically prosperous neighbor and a close regional source for importation. As an added benefit the increased economic power of Mexico would also lead to the greater demand for US goods from our southern neighbor as well?
If we legalize marijuana, why would we export it from Mexico if we can grow it here? Do you think Think Philip Morris would have anything to say about it?
Everyone knows the best weed is grown in CA now. We don't need no stinking Mexican weed, ese! Vayase donde la mierda, maricon!
If the USA legalizes the 12-16 million illegal immigrants within their borders they will encourage more illegal immigration ( which every amnesty has done) and they will cripple themselves financially. Most illegal immigrants come from the poorest corners of Mexico and are not fully literate ( even in Spanish). They contribute to the taxes in the USA but they take more out in benefits than they contribute. Most legal immigration to the USA is based on family ties and/or cheap labour thus every year the US ads about 1 million immigrants from the third world, most of wholm will never contribute as much in tax as they take in benefits. These are decent people who only want a better life, but if the US doesn't start thinking about the costs of importing the third world into a first world country with social programs, they will suffer the consequences.
How long have they been telling us that NAFTA and illegal immigration is good for our economy?
How's that gone so far?
It will continue to do what it's done for the past 20 years. It'll lower our standard of living and depress the wages of our most vulnerable workers.
two people to write this article?
I do not know how the balance of tax paid and benefit dollars used by immigrants, but I would be more concerned with the trillions of dollars that corporate America removes from the US economy and sends to China, that is what is killing the American worker, the other issue is peanuts in comparison, but attracts more attention from conservatives with an agenda to distract the public from the way more serious problem.
If you knew anything of economics, the American consumer is what drives businesses to manufacture in China. Between two similar products, most consumers will buy the cheaper of the two. You don't see a bunch of people in line at your local co-op getting local produce because it's more expensive. They get the cheap stuff picked by cheap labor. Unless you want to be like North Korea and putting massive barriers on the flow of all goods going in and out of the country, you're not going to stop people from competing for consumer demand through whatever means they can (which is either quality or price, but mostly price).
I'd rather business owners to try to manufacture goods in Mexico/Latin America rather than in China if they decide to seek cheap labor for whatever goods they produce since it's more beneficial for the U.S. to have a more prosperous next door neighbor.
Here's some simple math for you: 5 million (or more, probably) illegal immigrant kids get free school and lunch, which the states pay an average of $5000 a year for- so mulitply 5 million times five thousand, that's 25 BILLION DOLLARS. So when ignorant lefties say illegals don't cost us anything you can now answer with a fact. (and that does not even include costs for bus riding and Medicaid, which boosts it to $50 BILLION)
Poverty has long been Mexico's number 1 export. And the US has been willing to absorb it. Mexico loves that we take them because they are no longer their problem. The article states that "The rate of unauthorized immigration from Mexico has now dropped to historically low levels – there are at least as many leaving as arriving". That doesn't mean there is less immigration from Mexico, just merely that the US is doing a good job of chasing them out. Keep it up. We don't need Mexican poverty in our borders. There is enough home grown poverty that we should be dealing with, instead of wasting money on Mexico's problem.
I loooooove Mexican women.
Another "expert" desk-jockey heard from. All our problems with Mexican illegal entries and narcotics interdiction could be resolved if experienced people in ICE and Dept. of State were making policy and proposing solutions.
When we were attacked in San Antonio TX by the police and Mexican terrorist in a compact car reported by the neighbor to the 911, We had 3 dogs, I do not know where they are located and what happened with them. The San Antonio police took t
hem after we were attacked by carbon monoxide in a new functional equipment.
The Mexican San Antonio Consulate participated in the criminal situation for sure, through the Mexican Consul, they are working for the china imperium receiving millions of dollars from them.
Who cares-there are 20,000,000 illegal Mexicans in the United States–they should all be deported for breaking the federal laws.
Hey folks, Oblama won. If you expect things to go downhill, as I do, just arm yourself and stay close to your group. If this continue this way there will be another civil war. Just choose your side carefully.
Obama just gave Burma-Myanmar–and pledged $170,000,000.00 to help their ecnomic development -–what about New Jersey and New York.
If you love Mexico so much–move there
o noes go run for president then if you dont like what obamas doin.
ignorance, arrogance, racism, elitism describes every obama hater
that actually describes you based on your post.
Obama is giving away America's sovereignty, this man is pure evil.
And you know what bro, it even describes comrade Obama. How about that...!!
Ross Perot warned you people that there would be a giant sucking sound with American jobs and Americans money fleeing across the border to Mexico. While all of this is happening, Mexicans come here to the U.S. and steal Americans jobs, lower their wages, suck Americans social services dry, and the democrat party then calls Americans that object, RACISTS. Well, maybe the averge American deserves it all when they won't get rid of the "representatives" that continue to SELL US OUT.---STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES.
Stupid Is As Stupid Does was proven, when Ohio sent John Boehner back to Washington, and Kentucky sent Mitch McConnell. The Republicans are doing nothing, but spending all their time protecting the wealthy. Of course the wealthy, includes them. Why would they want to raise taxes on themselves? Better to cut Social Security, Medicare, and food stamp, for the poorest people in this country.
Yeah, P.S. why not just hand over the U.S. to Mexico. It's already controling the Southwest, where the native population had to support them with high taxes, and every other service under the sun.
Obongo selling out the country, what else is new?
As Americans when we look at the flag with it's bright shinning star's it's a vison of hope and freedom for all of us not just Mexican's and African American's who came to this great land looking for a better future for our children and our family's. America has always been a land with open arms where it welcome's all races who can better serve our country from our Mexican American Doctors and Lawyers who treat us in the hospital rooms and everyday life. So by sharing things with Mexico we are not losing our jobs to them but learning form them, as we share knowledge with them form their great products such as cars and radio's as well. We have to stop as a nation blaming the Mexican workers when we loss job's at home, it's not their fault but just the global ecomomic up's and down's every country experinces inculding ours. As Americans we love new ideas when it comes from the latest cars or music hit single from some well known American Hispanic jazz Hispanic saxphone player from New York Jess J. So as a nation which elected an African American president should we not look past our hateful sterotypical veiwpoints on hardworking Mexican American's and learn to join the global culture markets just like every other nation. Or will be a nation who is stuck in the dark ages when it comes to working with different races and relgions for years to come.
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
Every week we bring you in-depth interviews with world leaders, newsmakers and analysts who break down the world's toughest problems.
CNN U.S.: Sundays 10 a.m. & 1 p.m ET | CNN International: Find local times
Buy the GPS mug | Books| Transcripts | Audio
Connect on Facebook | Twitter | GPS@cnn.com
Buy past episodes on iTunes! | Download the audio podcast
Check out all of Fareed's Washington Post columns here:
Obama as a foreign policy president?
Why Snowden should stand trial in U.S.
Hillary Clinton's truly hard choice
China's trapped transition
Obama should rethink Syria strategy
Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
RSS - Posts
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 4,862 other followers