Regardless of the controversy and details surrounding Donald Trump’s visit to Mexico, the most important thing is that the interests of our nation and the rights of Mexicans are clear and protected. We must be united in this notion, setting aside our possible differences.

From the point of view of the business sector, Mexicans share a willingness to strengthen the strategic relationship we have with our neighbors, which for many is our most important and complex. In the same light, we agree that discriminatory expressions against our people must be forcefully condemned, such as those that have been broadcasted during the United States’ presidential campaign, in particular by Mr. Donald Trump.

It’s unacceptable that racism, xenophobia, and prejudice are encouraged as instruments of political manipulation. It goes against the principles of mutual respect, dignity, and the high democratic values upheld by the United States and by Mexico.

In the same way, it’s irresponsible and reprehensible to promote division, whether with physical walls or barriers of ignorance, in light of the realities, necessities, and circumstances of the most diverse and intense bilateral relation for both nations.

It suffices to recall that we share a border more than 3,000 kilometers long over which more than 1 million people cross every day. What’s more, 34.6 million people of Mexican descent live in the United States, and more than two million Americans live here in our country.

We reject the attempts to undo decades of efforts to achieve a close relationship between both countries, one signified by respect, cooperation, and shared prosperity. This arrangement has outlasted generations, governments, political parties, and economic crises.

The United States and Mexico are partners and friends, and we are not only linked by our economy, but our societies are also enriched by our shared history, culture, and ancestry. The strength and maturity of our bond is irreversible, and it will continue beyond administrations, staffing changes, and political positions.

The North American Free Trade Act is a product of this evolution. It is a tool that has enormously contributed just as much to the development of Mexico as it has to that of the United States and Canada. Therefore, it must not only be defended, but also strengthened and elevated to an even higher level, always with the purpose of productive integration. The way by which to modernize and adapt NAFTA to our modern times is through the institution of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In two decades, NAFTA has already been greatly beneficial for our region. The opening of commerce and the process of regional integration have permitted Mexico to position itself as a logistics platform and to become a relevant and global producer, as well as to gain a fundamental role in the generation of global value chains. For our neighbors, the results have been equally favorable.

Since 1994, business between the three partners has quadrupled, reaching more than $1 trillion in 2015, of which more than $532 million can be credited to exchanges between Mexico and United States.

Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export destination and imports more than China and Japan combined, and it is the first-largest destination for California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Every day, around $500 billion in goods are moved along our northern border. Six million employees in United States depend on this relationship, and millions of our countrymen live, work, and generate revenue in the U.S., benefiting Mexico as well via remittances.

It is not by chance that Mexican and American businessmen meet two times a year, in the U.S.-Mexico CEO Dialogue, in order to come to an agreement on strategies and public policy proposals to strengthen the competitiveness in our region, making commerce, investing, and the creation of jobs easier. Nor is it by chance that we share a long-term vision for our regional cooperation. Mexican and American businessmen build bridges. We don’t want walls.

We are convinced that only openness, collaboration, and teamwork will allow the growth of this region, an increase in its competitiveness, and a better sense of well-being for the families who reside in these three countries. Anything to the contrary will be damaging to all. The need to have good, stable neighbors is a mutual one. It’s not about arguing over who benefits the most, but rather about being united in order to compete in the world, making the most of each other’s strengths.

We must aim therefore for mutualism – a strategic society – always within the framework of respect for our citizens, our dignity, and our sovereignty.