On Thursday, Kansas City welcomes the Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Gerónimo Gutiérrez Fernández, to our community. His visit comes at a crucial time for U.S.-Mexican relations.
Last week, U.S., Mexican and Canadian negotiators finished the fourth of seven planned rounds of negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. At a trilateral press conference following the round, Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. negotiators jointly announced that they had completed discussions on some matters and made progress on several others.
Negotiators met for seven days and discussed nearly 30 different topics making progress on many. U.S. negotiators brought forward new proposals that address issues that are more challenging and will be discussed further at future rounds.
NAFTA has been critical to the economies of both Missouri and Kansas. In 2016, trade between Missouri and Mexico surpassed $5.3 billion. Mexico is Missouri’s second-largest export market. Trade between Kansas and Mexico surpassed $2.7 billion, making Mexico Kansas’ largest export market.
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It is estimated that almost 100,000 jobs in Missouri depend on trade with Mexico, as do almost 50,000 in Kansas. Missouri and Kansas exports to Mexico have increased by more than 550 percent under NAFTA. Mexico is Kansas City’s second-largest export market.
The Mexican economy is growing and today is a $1.2 trillion economy. It is our country’s second largest export market and the world’s 15th largest economy. It is a critical market for U.S. goods and services, especially agricultural commodities produced here in the Midwest.
Mexico is the third-largest destination for U.S. agricultural products and U.S.-Mexico agricultural trade has multiplied by five times afterNAFTA. Grains and oil seeds make up 30 percent of U.S. agriculture exports. Meat and dairy are about 26 percent.
Having secure borders is important. Having stable, trustworthy neighbors to the north and south is critical for that to be a reality.
The growing middle class in Mexico and its continued commitment to security and cooperation are vital to U.S. interests. Strengthening this friendship, not weakening it, is a vital security interest of our nation.
North America has become one of the most competitive trading blocks in the world. It is emerging as a global power in energy production. By taking advantage of each of the NAFTA member countries’ natural advantages, North America and the U.S. are more competitive globally.
With these things in mind, we welcome Ambassador Gutiérrez to Kansas City — a community and region with strong ties to Mexico and with a strong interest in our mutual advancement.
Patrick J. Ottensmeyer is president and CEO Kansas City Southern.