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  May 1st, 2016 | Written by

Annual Event Focuses on US-Mexico Relations, Cross-Border Business

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  • Mexico is still the fastest growing economy in Latin America.
  • Sectoral reforms were cited in program as key drivers of Mexico’s growth.
  • Among the key economic challenges facing Mexico: reducing the growing income disparity.

With U.S.-Mexico relations making headlines—particularly in this year’s presidential election—ManattJones Global Strategies, the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce (California Regional Chapter), and the Pacific Council on International Policy co-hosted the Annual Mexico Economic Review & Political Outlook 2016 in April.

“Given the hostile, anti-Mexico political climate that is being fostered in the U.S. presidential campaign, this was an important and timely event to counter some of the blatantly incorrect information about modern Mexico and what it represents to the U.S.,” said Michael C. Camuñez, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce and CEO, ManattJones Global Strategies.

The half-day event examined U.S.-Mexico bilateral relations, cross-border business opportunities, and related challenges.

Following opening remarks from Carlos Sada, Consul General and Mexican Ambassador-Designate to the United States, Camúñez, and a keynote address from Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets Arun Kumar, which provided an update on the state-of-play in the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship, individual panel discussions focused on several topics of interest.

An economic and political overview of Mexico noted that, while the economy was not growing as fast as the government would like, it is the fastest growing economy in Latin America. A key question was addressed: What are the drivers of Mexico’s growth and overall economy in recent years? The impact of the “Pacto por Mexico” or three-party collaboration that led to major sectoral reforms was cited. Among the key challenges: reducing the growing income disparity.

The U.S. presidential election – specifically, the sharp criticism of Mexico, Mexican immigrants and trade with the U.S. – were also covered, with an emphasis on the inflammatory comments by Republican front runner Donald J. Trump. Participants discussed whether there’s been a corresponding backlash in Mexico.

A discussion of the U.S.-Mexico role in the TPP and opportunities for California touched on whether NAFTA will become irrelevant if the TPP is ratified and what areas covered by TPP are not part of NAFTA.

The panelists discussed potential benefits and risks for California and its relationship with Mexico, whether and when the TPP could be ratified, and the consequences if that doesn’t happen. TPP was described as the gold standard of free trade agreements setting unprecedented standards on labor and environmental requirements that were previously addressed in side letters.

Finally, the session discussed the ongoing debate over free trade, whether it’s bad for jobs and economic growth and if the era of free trade is over. The panelist agreed that while there were dislocations in specific sectors of the economy because of the trade agreements, the facts are that trade has had a strong positive effect on both economies overall.