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Obama, Peña Nieto Discuss U.S.-Mexico Cooperation
November 29, 2012

By Phillip Kurata
IIP Staff Writer
November 28, 2012

Two men talk in front of a fireplace
Mexico’s president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto, left, shares his ideas with President Obama on how Mexico and the United States can work together.

President Obama and Mexico’s next president, Enrique Peña Nieto, exchanged ideas for advancing U.S.-Mexican cooperation bilaterally, regionally and globally in their first meeting.

In Washington November 27, Peña Nieto said the Mexican and the U.S. governments are committed to creating more jobs for their citizens and further integration of the North American economies with each other and with Asia through the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Eleven nations on the western and eastern shores of the Pacific Ocean are currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership to create a trading group with minimal barriers that would set the standard for free trade in the 21st century.

“My government is, of course, very much interested in strengthening this because we believe that this is going to be a great opportunity for all of us,” said Peña Nieto, who takes office December 1.

After his meeting with President Obama and several U.S. lawmakers, Peña Nieto went to Ottawa to meet Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian legislators. The Mexican leader’s trip reflects the importance Mexico places on its relations with its neighbors to the north. The Mexican, U.S. and Canadian economies have been deeply linked through the North American Free Trade Agreement since 1994.

In his welcoming remarks, President Obama talked of looking forward to “fruitful discussions” on Peña Nieto’s “very ambitious” reform agenda, which includes economic and trade ties, border security, immigration, energy and climate change.

Peña Nieto has stated that he wants to lead Mexico, the world’s 13th-largest economy, to a more influential role internationally, a goal that President Obama supports.

“Mexico has become not simply an important bilateral partner, but is today a very important multilateral, multinational leader on a whole range of issues from energy to climate change, and we look forward to working with Mexico not only on regional issues, but also on global issues,” President Obama said.

Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market and its third-largest trading partner. About 12 million Mexican immigrants live in the United States, and about half of them are undocumented, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. President Obama has said that comprehensive immigration reform is a key issue of his administration. Peña Nieto said his administration wants to actively contribute to finding a solution to the problem of Mexicans migrating north into the United States.

With regard to the 3,200-kilometer border separating the United States from Mexico, Peña Nieto said he wants to help make the boundary safe, modern, connected and legal. He also said his administration wants to reduce the violence stemming from the drug trade, which has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people in recent years.

“We have set out to launch a strategy for this purpose,” he said.