The Evolving US-Mexico Bilateral Relationship

On August 10, high-level representatives from the Mexican and American federal governments met with the aim of setting short and long-term goals relevant to the bilateral relationship. The meeting sent a strong signal towards both countries’ intentions to solidify the political, social, and economic ties they share.

Meeting between Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas directed the United States’s delegation.

Key Points

  • On August 10, the United States of America and Mexico held a ministerial level reunion to discuss issues relevant to the bilateral relationship, including migration, economic development, and security.

  • The Mexican delegation was led by Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, while National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas directed the United States’s delegation.

  • Among the chief announcements was the re-launch of the High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) on September 9, 2021 with the goal of accelerating economic development in the region.

  • The meeting represented a significant advancement in improving the US-Mexico relationship, as both countries have experienced differences in recent regulatory changes, increased migration flows, and difficulty in containing the spread of COVID-19.

Overview

On August 10, high-level representatives from the Mexican and American federal governments met with the aim of setting short and long-term goals relevant to the bilateral relationship. The meeting sent a strong signal towards both countries’ intentions to solidify the political, social, and economic ties they share.


Among the topics discussed was migration and the increased incoming flow of migrants coming across the US’s southern border. One of President Biden’s campaign promises was a policy to reunify migrant children with their family, as well as establishing a more orderly structure in the entry of migrants to the United States. However, illegal migratory flows into the United States continue to grow at seemingly uncontrollable rates, despite distinct border security measures taken. According to the US Customs and Border Protection (CPB), just this past January, 5,871 unaccompanied children crossed the border into the United States, compared to 4,995 in December 2020. In addition, the CPB reported an average of 3,000 arrests per day in January, reaching nearly 100,000 monthly arrests, compared to less than 30,000 per month last year.


Most significantly, the officials announced the relaunch of the High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED), a flexible platform intended to advance strategic economic and commercial priorities central to promoting mutual economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness. The HLED was a consequential channel to maintain institutional relations between Mexico and the US during Presidents Peña Nieto and Obama’s terms - precisely when Joe Biden served as Vice President of the United States.


It is expected that the HLED will meet annually, starting on September 9 in Washington, DC, to facilitate dialogue and joint initiatives organized around the following broad pillars:

  1. Supply chain resiliency and relocation

  2. Coordination for emergency preparedness

  3. International cooperation for Central America and Southern Mexico’s development

  4. Border Infrastructure


Looking Forward

Last week’s high-level meeting marks a stark difference from the actions taken by Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)’s administration in recent months that have tainted the bilateral relationship. Most notably, AMLO has accused the United States federal government of financing Mexican think tanks and organizations that are critical to his administration’s decisions; argued that the Organization of American States does not properly represent Latin America’s interests and proposed its disappearances; and signed a new law that that limits the activity of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) intelligence agents in Mexico.


Similarly, actions carried out by AMLO in support of socialist governments such as Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Argentina run contrary to the United States’ foreign policy. Additionally, the United States has brought up their concerns over the potential lack of compliance that Mexico has shown to the USMCA’s provisions on labor and automotive rules of origin. The HLED is a sign in the right direction that will strengthen the institutional relationships in the region’s agenda.


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