Note: Suzanne Clark will be visiting Mexico from March 30th to March 31st. This text is translated from the original El Financiero Op-Ed by Suzanne Clark, “Empresas estadounidenses ven desafíos y oportunidades en la relación México-EU.”
From an ongoing pandemic to war in eastern Europe, the global economy is both growing briskly and facing sudden headwinds, making it all the more important for economic partners to work together to invest and grow. For American companies, there are few partners as vital as Mexico, our country’s top trade partner. As I travel here this week to meet with government and business leaders, my priority is to strengthen our partnership for the benefit of both nations.
Fortunately, the strength of our bilateral economic relationship is already on full display. In addition to being each other’s top trading partners, U.S. companies are by far the top investors in Mexico and support millions of good jobs in the country. Moreover, Americans and Mexicans work, study, and do business together every day. That makes it essential for us to communicate openly about how to make our indispensable partnership even stronger.
This is why the U.S. Chamber has never been shy about holding both governments accountable when it comes to misguided policy. Such was the case only a few years ago when we stood up for Mexico in opposing our own government’s threats to limit legal trade and travel and apply hefty tariffs to Mexican exports. The immense stakes of our bilateral economic relationship demand that we consistently stand for what is just and principled on both sides of our shared border.
Given today’s geopolitical tensions, it makes a world of sense for the U.S. and Mexico to work even more closely together in manufacturing, strategic minerals extraction, and energy production. We can achieve more together than apart.
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) provides us a powerful tool to reach this objective, which is why the U.S. Chamber worked so hard to secure its approval. But now, more must be done to unlock its potential. Too many violations of the USMCA’s terms are going unchecked. This includes a U.S. interpretation of automotive rules of origin that goes beyond the letter of the agreement and is rightly being challenged by both Mexico and Canada. Our governments must hold each other accountable to full USMCA implementation and compliance.
The same is true with Mexico’s plans for a constitutional overhaul of its electricity market which as currently written violates a number of commitments Mexico made in the USMCA. It also works against Mexico’s vast potential to be a global leader in production of solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources. Open and transparent energy investment between our countries is essential as we confront surging fuel prices. Our continent’s wealth of natural resources offers great potential for regional energy cooperation, but we cannot seize that potential with protectionist policies.
Beyond the energy sector, U.S. businesses also face USMCA compliance and implementation challenges in Mexico in areas such as trade facilitation, digital trade, and biopharmaceutical procurement. From our perspective, these issues are creating greater investment uncertainty at a moment of historic opportunity for Mexico—an opportunity that would be undermined by misguided policies. U.S. companies want nothing more than to enhance investments in Mexico to support a robust recovery from the pandemic, but the lack of legal security and transparency is making it difficult.
We raise these concerns in the spirit of friendship, and only because we know the extraordinary growth potential of our partnership. We agree with the Mexican government’s assessment that the global rebalancing of supply chains—and the potential “nearshoring” of manufacturing—is a historic opportunity for North America. The tragic events in Ukraine further underscore the importance of free enterprise economies working together toward greater self-sufficiency. The U.S. Chamber is honored to be hosting the CEO Summit of the Americas in June in Los Angeles, where we will work with our closest partners, including Mexico, to advance this objective throughout our region.
I’m looking forward to discussing these issues with Mexican leaders this week. We appreciate that some of our concerns are already priorities for the Mexican government, and we’re also here to listen to their ideas and offer the American business community’s help in achieving shared objectives. As we have proven before, when our two countries work together, there are no challenges too large to overcome.
About the authors
President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
As President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Suzanne Clark heads strategy, government relations and market innovation to support member companies and businesses.