What the U.S. can learn from Mexico
December 31st, 2012
06:47 AM ET

What the U.S. can learn from Mexico

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By Global Public Square staff

A few weeks ago, the president told a newspaper the solution to partisanship is politics and more politics. That’s how you work toward the building of agreements.

Unfortunately, it wasn't Barack Obama. It was Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto. As Washington has been mired in gridlock this year, consider what’s happening just across the border. One of the first things Pena Nieto did after assuming office just weeks ago was to announce a pact for Mexico, an ambitious set of reforms to raise taxes, increase competition and take on the teachers’ unions.

Now, it is one thing to announce a plan, quite another to get support for it and President Pena Nieto's pact comes with endorsements from across the spectrum, the conservatives he ousted from office as well as the leftist Democrats.

While the world has gotten used to a torrent of images and news of drug-related violence from Mexico, another side of this country has been quietly developing.

Consider the facts: Mexico’s GDP is expected to grow by nearly 4 percent this year, twice as fast as Brazil or, for that matter, the United States. It is riding a manufacturing boom. Mexico is now the world’s fourth biggest producer of cars, according to the World Trade Atlas. Starting next year, new taxis in New York City will carry a “made in Mexico' label.” Mexico is also the world's top exporter of flat screen TVs. In fact, Mexico exports more manufactured products than all the other countries in Latin America combined.

More from GPS: Misconceptions about Mexico

Three main factors are in play: For one, geography. Sharing a border with the United States means heavy products are cheaper to transport across than if they were manufactured in, say, Asia.

A second factor is NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexican products are subject to lower duties than those from other countries. In fact, The Economist points out that Mexico has trade deals with 44 countries, the most of any nation in the world.

The third factor is wages. As other manufacturing hubs become more expensive, Mexico has become more competitive. According to HSBC, in 2000 Mexican workers earned nearly five times the salary of their Chinese peers. But, by 2011, Mexican workers were only about a third more expensive than Chinese workers.

When you project all these advantages into the next few years, Mexico’s economic future looks robust. The National Intelligence Council released an important report called Global Trends 2030. One of the trends it looks at is how demographic changes will shape the world. Countries with younger, more dynamic populations will grow faster.

While the median age in Mexico will be 34 in 2030, the median Chinese or Russian age will be about ten years older. Japan’s median age will hit 52. America actually has an advantage here, at 39 our median age will only be five years older than that of Mexico's. Trends don't ensure particular outcomes, but it's clear that contrary to its global image, Mexico's economy has momentum. It will be among the world's top ten economies by the end of this decade.

Smart reforms can build it further. The irony is that one possible impediment to Mexico’s growth could be the very country that is its biggest asset – the United States. If we slow down, so will Mexico. But perhaps that can be avoided if Washington's polarized factions could agree on a way forward. Maybe we need to take some lessons from south of the border.

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Topics: Latin America • Mexico

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soundoff (246 Responses)
  1. eat.vn

    Hi, Neat post. There is an issue along with your site in web explorer, might test this? IE still is the marketplace chief and a large component to folks will miss your magnificent writing because of this problem.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Reply
  2. bribarian

    what we can learn, send all your poor into a richer country, then steal

    January 13, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Reply
  3. Jimjam77887

    President Obama can learn that disarming the people leaves only the lawless armed, and the citizens like sheep to the slaughter.

    January 14, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  4. lweba

    Americans go by instincts not by rational thinking. Introduce a new thing to them they will react by their instincts. Had they been using brains they would have changed many of their indefensible laws. America has abundant natural resources an advantage over other countries. Things are changing but, the national debt is pulling America under and if nothing rational is done about it soon, some nations which Americans despise will soon pull ahead of her!

    January 15, 2013 at 11:13 am | Reply
  5. Eddie Fonseca

    As Americans we always see on the local newes another tourist getting killed in Mexico, on Tel Mundo or CNN like's to present the topic that Mexico is a dangerous places where the drug lord thrive and make millions when selling drugs across the border to places in the United States of America and Canada as well. Mexico is not just a place where people are drug mules and the industry is based on drugs and guns, it's quite a rich country that has lot's of history and has given us singers and food that entered the American markets. Being an American who has visted Mexico the people have always been open minded to talk about their cultures, and music with them over cup of coffie or soda with them at the local cafe. As Americans we must travel outside of borders and explore different cultures and not judge them what we see on the local newes, this has been our mistake for many years when we judge races like the American Hispanic community and Arab American community as well in our society. What as Americans we can learn from Mexico is to be open minded and learn to listen and share ideas with our friends south of the border, and not to judge all hard working Mexcians as illegal workers who want to steal our jobs but treat with respect and let them be apart our of growing society for years to come.

    September 5, 2013 at 12:12 am | Reply
  6. Johnathan Nolan

    i hate coach Williams

    March 4, 2015 at 8:39 pm | Reply
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