By Senator Marco Rubio
November 30, 2012
On Saturday, Enrique Peña Nieto will take office as the new president of Mexico. I had the pleasure of meeting briefly with President-elect Peña Nieto during his short visit to the United States this week, and I am hopeful that his tenure can represent an opportunity to continue and expand on the good relations we have enjoyed with his predecessor Felipe Calderon.
Mexico's longstanding economic, social and cultural ties with the United States have always made our relations with Mexico important. However, since the inauguration of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the dramatic increase in cross-border commerce that resulted, Mexico's economy has grown to become the second largest in Latin America, and it is now the United States' third-largest commercial partner and second-largest market for U.S. exports. For 22 U.S. states, Mexico is the first- or second-largest export market.
Clearly, the need for a positive, productive U.S.-Mexico relationship is driven by far more than the immigration and transnational crime issues that dominate the headlines.
A strong, prosperous Mexico is good for the United States. It represents a large, growing market for a wide variety of U.S. exports. It offers a convenient, economically competitive alternative to China and other Asian countries for foreign corporations looking to manufacture and export to the United States. And a strong Mexico that produces good, legitimate jobs for its growing population will undermine the appeal of criminal organizations and the enticement of undocumented employment in the United States.
The administration's invitation to Mexico in June to join negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership that would lower tariffs and spur economic growth around the Pacific Rim was a welcome step that I applauded at the time. Now, the administration should step up efforts to see the negotiations completed, which would directly benefit both the United States and Mexico, as well other our trading partners in the Western Hemisphere.
The administration should also quickly submit, and Congress vet and approve, legislation implementing the trans-boundary hydrocarbons agreement signed by the United States and Mexico in February, which allows international oil companies to join Mexico's national oil company in joint exploration and development in the Gulf of Mexico, to the benefit of both our economies.
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