Both Mexico and the United States held presidential races this year, and the results offer an opportunity to redirect our countries’ bilateral relationship. The U.S. election demonstrated the growing demographic bonds that connect our countries’ futures. The election in Mexico heralded a new era of change and reform, as much as a new style of governing, based on pragmatism and results.
To build a more prosperous future for our two countries, we must continue strengthening and expanding our deep economic, social and cultural ties. It is a mistake to limit our bilateral relationship to drugs and security concerns. Our mutual interests are too vast and complex to be restricted in this short-sighted way. When I meet with President Obama on Tuesday — just days before my inauguration — I want to discuss the best way to rearrange our common priorities. After all, our agenda affects millions of citizens in both countries.
Perhaps the most important issue is finding new ways to bolster our economic and trade relationship to attain common prosperity in our nations. The United States is already Mexico’s largest trading partner. As a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), our economic ties have grown to an unprecedented degree. NAFTA links 441 million people producing trillions of dollars in goods and services annually, making it the largest trading bloc in the world. Consequently, in NAFTA we have a solid foundation to further integrate our economies through greater investments in finance, infrastructure, manufacturing and energy. Together, we must build a more competitive and productive region.
Another relevant bilateral issue relates to Mexico’s status as an increasingly desirable and dependable manufacturing location. My country is the second-largest supplier of electronic goods to the United States. Coca-Cola, DuPont, GM, Nissan, Honda, Mazda, Audi and many others are seizing the opportunity to manufacture within our borders. We seek to continue offering U.S. consumers better products and better prices.
Energy production is another emerging area that can enhance our nations’ potential. I plan to open Mexico’s energy sector to national and foreign private investment. Mexico holds the fifth-largest shale gas reserve in the world, in addition to large deep-water oil reserves and a tremendous potential in renewable energy. We will not surrender Mexico’s ownership over its energy resources, and we will not privatize our state-run oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). We will, however, welcome new technologies, new partnerships and new investments. Together with the United States and Canada, this may well contribute to guaranteeing North American energy independence — something from which we would all greatly benefit.
Above all, our mutual interest lies in our intertwined peoples. More than 1 million U.S. citizens live in Mexico, and my country remains the largest source of immigrants to the United States. Some analysts detect new momentum for comprehensive immigration reform since the U.S. presidential election. All Mexicans would welcome such a development.
Both of our nations are seriously affected by organized-crime activities and drug trafficking. Working against them must be a shared responsibility. I will continue the efforts begun by President Felipe Calderón, but the strategy must necessarily change. I set as a public goal slashing violent crime significantly, proposing a sizable increase in security spending and doing away with redundant police levels. I will improve coordination among crime-fighting authorities, expand the federal police by at least 35,000 officers and bolster intelligence-gathering and analysis. It is also important that our countries increase intelligence-sharing and crime-fighting techniques and promote cooperation among law enforcement agencies.
I am visiting Washington and President Obama because our nations share a long-standing and important relationship. The 2012 elections mark the beginning of a new era for the United States and Mexico. This is a great time to join efforts and capitalize on that momentum. We must build a more prosperous North America, on the basis of an alliance for a further competitive and productive integration of our economies.
Enrique Peña Nieto is president-elect of Mexico.