If asked which country is America’s biggest trading partner, most people would quickly say China. China, after all, has had the world’s fastest growing economy for the last several years. But China is actually not the right answer. In fact, China isn’t even America’s second biggest trading partner. That would be Canada. China is third. The correct answer is Mexico. And Mexico wants to make sure it not only maintains this ranking but improves upon it.
A trade delegation from the Mexican state of Chihuahua made a courtesy call on Denver Mayor Michael Hancock last Thursday. The informal meeting with the Mayor---a precursor to the signing of a Friendship Agreement---was led by Sylvia Román Síenz, Chihuahua’s Secretary of Innovation and Economic Development.
U.S. Census figures show that Mexican-U.S. trade totaled $614.5 billion in 2019. The United States exported more than $256 billion in goods, including corn, beef, pork, motor vehicle parts, computer chips and oil, across the border. Mexico shipped more than $358 billion in goods into the U.S.
The bulk of imports from Mexico is related to the auto industry. More than $93 billion worth of cars and car parts flowed into the U.S. from Mexico last year. Moving through American ports were more than $22 billion worth of car engines, $5 billion in car seats and another $5 billion in car and truck chassis. Mexican factories also shipped $22 billion in computers and computer parts into the U.S. It also shipped $6.7 billion worth of vegetables and another $5.3 billion worth of fruit and nuts. Mexico is also the leading exporter of beer into the United States.
Doing business with Mexico is important, said Hancock. Also important is making sure that business involves more than just trading goods and services. “A lot of our immigrants to Denver and Colorado are from that region of Mexico,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to build familiarity but also robust trade and business opportunities.”
The Mexican delegation’s visit stressed the possibilities that a more formal relationship could have for each side. “We are developing innovation centers where we are targeting engineers and different people to study and do development in different industries,” said Román Síenz through an interpreter. “Our city and our people have been known for a long time as being cheap labor. But what we want and what this government is really working on is being known as minds of work and not just hands of work.”
Hancock indicated that sending a trade delegation to Chihuahua should be undertaken but put no timeline on when it should take place. He also voiced support for a Friendship Agreement with Chihuahua. A Friendship Agreement is similar to a Sister City relationship but does not require approval of a city council.
Mexican trade with the U.S. has traveled a bumpy road under President Trump who has threatened to tack tariffs---as much as 25 percent---onto Mexican goods. Also, just last week, Trump hinted at shutting the U.S. border with Mexico because of the corona virus. He backtracked a short time later.
Chihuahua’s largest city is Juarez which sits across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. The two cities compose one of the largest binational metropolitan areas in the world with a combined population of 2.4 million.