Mexico and the US: Linked Interests

The point is that both are able to recognize their limits, communicate and act in accordance with common interests, and recognize the interests of the other.

A sigh of relief greeted President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s announcement that his Sept. 16 speech would no longer include the issue of the energy situation, in recognition of a letter from President Joe Biden on their bilateral relationship.*

The fear and concerns were that the Mexican president would wrap himself in the national flag to define what is effectively a legal and interpretive dispute of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

The contents of the letter have not been disclosed. But it seems to have been enough to quell the concerns of López Obrador, who in his usual morning talk insisted that there is a good relationship between the two countries and that a dispute would be to the detriment of the people of both.

And regardless of what you think of either of the two governments, that’s the reality: A breach would be disastrous for Mexico and very serious for the U.S. Both nations have an interest in each other’s well-being and progress.

The numbers say a lot: 1,954 miles of border, more than $600 billion in annual trade, 11 million Mexicans living in the U.S. and up to 3 million Americans spending ten or more months of the year in our country. And trends indicate that the two economies and populations are increasingly intertwined.

Strategically, Mexico is in the ideal situation to benefit from new global investment and production trends. Specifically, near-shoring or ally-shoring. But for this, it needs to solve problems that affect its relationship with the U.S. and concern Mexican and foreign investors in general, such as security and legal certainty.

Mexico, whether its leaders like it or not, is in the American geopolitical orbit with all its problems, but also with its advantages. In other words, Mexico needs to measure approaches and pick its battles. This is nothing new and, in fact, the U.S. government is doing it not out of generosity or because it has a sudden love for Mexico, but because it is in its own interests and that of its country: Why escalate a clash with a neighboring nation and create unnecessary problems?

The focus of the U.S. is to have strong partners/allies on its border. Canada is one, and not only because of historical and cultural identifications. Mexico can be one, and that goes beyond posturing.

That framework can tolerate letters from U.S. lawmakers or petitions to free Julian Assange. They are important in the moment, but anecdotal at the end of the day.

The problem is not that Mexico could have a left-wing government or the U.S. a right-wing one. The point is that both are able to recognize their limits, communicate and act in accordance with common interests, and recognize the interests of the other.

In a relationship as vast, broad and deep as that between Mexico and the U.S., there is a place for quarrels and complications but also for understanding, arrangements and solutions.

*Editor’s Note: President Joe Biden sent a letter to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the beginning of September in response to the latter’s previous complaints about the state of energy consultations opened within the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

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