Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico John Negroponte met in Laredo on Thursday with representatives from over 30 public and private organizations from the U.S. and Mexico to discuss how to promote U.S.-Mexico trade. The roundtable discussion was part of the Council of the Americas, and included the Laredo Chamber of Commerce, Chevron, DHL, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Walmart de Mexico and Texas A&M International University.
Although Negroponte stated that border policy’s focus on security “was probably most appropriate and quite natural” in the wake of 9/11, he stated that “we also need now to right the balance and focus more on the issue of competitiveness, of facilitating commerce.” Negroponte was based in Mexico during negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He said that in the two decades following his 1989 to 1993 tenure, bilateral trade has quadrupled. According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, trade between U.S. and Mexico totaled $500 billion last year.
Negroponte stated that the Nuevo Laredo-Laredo is one of the most important border crossings in the world, as more than $396 million passes through the port of entry every day.
The former ambassador also referenced the current election year in both nations, stating that “the Council of the Americas seeks to facilitate a discussion of both the challenges and opportunities during a period of political transitions in both our countries.” Arnulfo Valdivia represented President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, and said that the border region could pioneer government reform and commerce for the entire nation.
In light of Congress’ attempt to cut discretionary spending, participants discussed alternative sources of funding for infrastructure, such as the North American Development Bank and public-private partnerships.