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In this edition of North America Watch, we start with an article by Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat. Robertson wrote recently in the Globe and Mail about the need to take North American regional cooperation more seriously.
Robertson offers a refreshing new focus on North America from a Canadian perspective. His piece reflects that a strong trilateral relationship will not distract from a strong bilateral relationship. As he wrote: “Within North America, we have an opportunity to develop a new model of working together – less bureaucratic and centralized than that of the European Union.”
*We also spotlight a piece about the opening of the first new rail bridge between Mexico and the United States in more than 100 years. In other words, since before World War I and the Mexican Revolution.
Other forms of transportation certainly have come on strong in those 100-plus years. Still, railroads are a way to move goods quickly across the border and expand trade, as Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzer noted at the opening of the West Rail Bypass International Bridge connecting Brownsville and Matamoros.
*In a sign of hope, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is slated to travel to Mexico over the Labor Day weekend. As The Dallas Morning News reports, his trip represents the first trip south of the border for a Texas governor since 2007.
The meeting reportedly will include a high-level delegation of Texans interested in greater economic, cultural and political integration between Texas and Mexico. Trade between the border state and its neighbor is about $200 billion per year, which is twice the trade between Mexico and the United Kingdom. This mission is important for that reason alone.
*The Texas Tribune wrote this week about the declining value of the peso and the effect that has on cross-border trade. As The Tribune reports, it takes about 17 pesos to buy one dollar today. A year ago, 13 pesos were enough.
The decline in the value of the peso may not affect all U.S./Mexico trading relationships. And there is a good news/bad news element to this story. The peso’s decline is related to the dollar’s strengthening, which benefits Americans when they travel to Mexico and other countries. But the decline will be felt along the Texas/Mexico border, where American retailers benefit from Mexicans shopping in the U.S.
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