What Unites the United States With Mexico

At a Fuqua discussion, Mexican ambassador shares where ties with the U.S. are strong

Esteban Moctezuma Barragán

“I believe that the association of the Mexican government with Duke University and the local authorities can create different educational, scientific and technological programs for our population,” the ambassador said.

Moctezuma addressed immigration reform along the southern border of the United States, a central issue this election year. He said his nation’s leaders don't agree with the rhetoric about migrants being a danger to the United States and that historically, migrants are the soul of America. 

Moctezuma said he has warned his embassy team of having to “listen to very ugly things” over the months leading up to the election and counseled then to “grow a thick skin” and focus on the real matters that unites the two nations.

“Elections will pass, but not the true meaning of our relationship,” said Moctezuma, who pointed out that Mexico is the United States’ leading trade partner globally. Mexico buys more U.S. products than Germany, France, Italy and Spain, combined.

The U.S. will not succeed in being the [leading] economy in the world if it’s not supported by the North American region.”

Mexican Ambassador Esteban Moctezuma Barragán

Moctezuma later told the MBA executive class that the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship accounts for millions of American jobs, with total trade exceeding $100 billion last year. 

The economic relationship makes up about 16 percent of all US trade, he added.

Moreover, Moctezuma said U.S. consumers have seen prices drop by about 30 percent on an array of goods and services over the past 25 years since the two countries signed the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. 

Moctezuma added that with the world undergoing a geopolitical change the United States needs to be economically competitive against Asia.

“The U.S. will not succeed in being the [leading] economy in the world if it’s not supported by the North American region,” Moctezuma said.

Moctezuma also highlighted the importance of Mexico’s trade relationship with North Carolina, saying the Tar Heel State’s exchange of goods with his nation is greater than the total U.S. trade with Portugal and Greece combined.

Meanwhile, “150,000 jobs in North Carolina hinge on trade with Mexico,” he said.

The ambassador spoke at Duke just days after the nation elected its first female president, Claudia Sheinbaum.

“It’s a fresh new start with a woman president,” he said. “And that will bring all the strength of half of the population that has never been power. (Sheinbaum) had 60 percent of the vote.”

Moctezuma said that Sheinbaum outlined three key points in her victory speech: a pluralistic, diverse and democratic society that rejects authoritarians and promotes freedoms of expression, praise and assembly; a focus on financial and fiscal discipline, the autonomy of the Bank of Mexico and the rule of law, and finally, to maintain a respectful and peaceful relationship with the United States.

In an interview prior to speaking at Fuqua’s Geneen Auditorium, Mexico’s ambassador pointed to his country’s gender quotas to help women win political office. Every political party must give half of the candidacies to a woman.

“The President [of Mexico] is a woman,” he said. “The president of the Supreme Court is a woman. The president of the National Electoral Institute is a woman. Also, the president of the central bank is a woman. So, we are very, very thrilled that these affirmative actions have worked. And right now, a woman can proceed to participate in a very important way in Mexico.”