Viewpoints: The bonds between California and Mexico will only grow stronger

07/23/2014 12:00 AM

07/22/2014 9:43 PM

Over the years, Mexico and the United States have forged a bilateral relationship that is unique in its scope, depth and complexity. On issues as diverse as economic growth and foreign trade, education and health, and environmental protection and security, we are reminded every day about the importance of this partnership by the myriad exchanges that take place at all levels between our societies and governments – and, above all, by the benefits that this brings to both countries.

The bonds that exist between California and Mexico are key elements of this unique relationship. The most evident of these has to do, understandably, with the fact that we are neighbors. Mexico and California share a 145-mile border, which entails a number of challenges and opportunities. The Tijuana-San Ysidro port of entry, one of the seven crossings between Baja California and California, is the busiest land border crossing in the world. The safety, efficiency and expediency of such crossings are a responsibility that we must address together.

The social dimension of our relationship is no less important. California is home to the largest number of people of Mexican origin in the United States. This state has done much to integrate foreign-born populations into the state’s social fabric, expanding access to education, work and transportation. It has proven, through decisive legislative and executive action, that it recognizes the contribution of immigrants to their communities.

Equally significant are our economic ties. With a gross domestic product in excess of $2.2 trillion, California ranks as the eighth-largest economy in the world. Mexico plays a part in this strong economic performance as the state’s most significant foreign trading partner. In 2013, our bilateral trade amounted to $60 billion, an amount that is almost equal to Mexico’s yearly trade with the entire European Union.

Mexico and the U.S. are working together to develop their human capital and to foster economic growth, productivity and innovation. In May 2013, President Enrique Peña Nieto and President Barack Obama launched three new bilateral mechanisms to achieve our common goals that have already produced important results in California.

The first of these, the High Level Economic Dialogue, seeks to improve border infrastructure and logistics corridors. The San Diego-Tijuana International Airport pedestrian bridge, scheduled for completion early next year, is an example of the projects underway to enhance cross-border connectivity and mobility.

The second, the Mexico-U.S. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council, is developing a mapping project in the Tijuana-San Diego corridor that will facilitate stronger supply chains and integration, boosting regional competitiveness.

And the third, the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation and Research, is fostering closer ties and exchanges between academic institutions on both sides of the border. These are already taking place in Silicon Valley and the University of California, Davis, and will gradually expand over the coming months and years.

Mexico is undergoing profound transformations. Reforms initiated are giving way to a more productive and competitive economy, a stronger democracy and a more equitable society. This process is creating new areas of opportunity for the United States and, in particular, for California. We are confident that the forthcoming visit of Gov. Jerry Brown to Mexico, at the head of a major trade and investment mission, will further strengthen the already significant ties between California and Mexico.

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