Business Leaders from Both Sides of Border Want Competitive North America
By GUILLERMO VOGEL and PATRICK OTTENSMEYER
U.S. and Mexican officials met in Mexico City on Monday, Sept. 12, to hold a second edition of the re-launched U.S.-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED).
Created in 2013, the HLED has historically served as a forum through which both governments advance the strategic economic and commercial priorities for their countries.
On the agenda at this meeting was a discussion around strengthening regional supply chains and “exploring the vision for North America over the next 20 years.”
It certainly seemed like the right time to focus on strengthening the bilateral commercial relationship, which currently faces challenges due to an ever-growing list of United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) implementation and interpretation challenges from both governments.
It was against this backdrop that the business community simultaneously raised its voice to both express concerns and to celebrate bilateral achievements.
To encourage more of the latter, we, as businessmen, were proud to collaborate with our respective governments to find innovative solutions to the challenges both countries face.
The objective was to advance shared economic and political objectives through the HLED, under the USMCA framework, and, more broadly in the bilateral economic relationship.
The private sector is convinced that the two countries’ economic recovery from the covid-19 pandemic will be stronger together. That’s why we believe the relevance and importance of the HLED has never been higher.
Concurrent with the formation of the HLED, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Mexico’s Business Coordinating Council (CCE) launched the U.S.-Mexico CEO Dialogue in 2013 as its business counterpart, as the main mechanism for high-level interaction between business and public officials from both countries.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Mexican Economy Secretary Tatiana Clouthier, Mexican Foreign Relations (SRE) Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and other senior Mexican and U.S. government officials participated in our most recent plenary of the U.S.-Mexico CEO Dialogue, held on July 13, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
During that meeting, top U.S. and Mexican CEOs touted the USMCA’s benefits, while highlighting implementation challenges that the private sector called on both governments to help resolve.
Throughout its nine years, the CEO Dialogue’s overarching objective has been to increase economic ties between Mexico and the United States through joint public policy recommendations on trade and investment priorities.
Said recommendations have consistently been designed to enhance the bilateral economic relationship with the aim of ensuring that North America is the world’s most competitive region.
In advance of the Sept. 12 HLED meeting, the CEO Dialogue convened its members to prepare and submit private sector policy recommendations that were submitted to both governments.
The CEO Dialogue promotes policy priorities in five working groups, each co-chaired by a U.S. and Mexican company: investment; trade facilitation; trade policy; services; and energy and climate change.
Complementing the four thematic pillars of the HLED, the CEO Dialogue’s five working groups developed a set of tangible and actionable recommendations that we believe will support the above-mentioned objectives in both the short and long term. These include:
Pillar I – Building Back Together, by ensuring full compliance with the USMCA, establishing a binational protocol to reduce economic disruptions during future crises (through the Trade Policy Working Group), prioritizing actions that promote energy security and guarantee access to clean and reliable electricity and fuel at competitive prices (through the Energy and Climate Change Working Group), strengthening North American supply chains in medical equipment and printed circuit boards (PCBs) (through the Investment Working Group), improving border infrastructure, establishing a joint inspection program for fruits and vegetables at the Nuevo Laredo port of entry, and reinstituting the public-private dialogue with Mexico’s Tax Administration Service (SAT) and the National Customs Agency (ANAM) (through the Trade Facilitation Working Group).
Pillar II – Promoting Sustainable Economic and Social Development in southern Mexico and Central America by establishing a “one-stop shop” that facilitates investment and supports efforts to attract specific supply chain elements (through the Investment Working Group).
Pillar III – Securing the Tools for Future Prosperity by strengthening the digital economy via the expansion of connectivity and the optimization of cybersecurity (through the Service Working Group).
Pillar IV – Investing in Our People by advancing entrepreneurship, strengthening small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and promoting financial inclusion (through the Services Working Group).
The binational business community, represented by the CEO Dialogue, is committed to working with the U.S. and Mexican governments through the HLED to contribute to a constructive discussion and to advancing strategic economic and commercial priorities that will translate into mutual economic growth, job creation, resilience and competitiveness.
As Presidents López Obrador and Joe Biden said in their joint statement of July 12, “As neighbors, friends and family, we are united as two nations that share one future.”
We couldn’t agree more, which is why the business community on both sides of the border is committed to working with the HLED and both governments to ensure the most competitive North America possible.
GUILLERMO VOGEL is vice chair of Tenaris, a global manufacturer and supplier of steel pipes and related services, primarily for the energy industry, a subsidiary company of the Techint Group, with nearly 23,000 employees around the world. PATRICK OTTENSMEYER is the president and CEO of Kansas City Southern, the cross-border freight rail service that offers transportation supply chain in the United States and Mexico.