Mexican Ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan (L) shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) as Mexican President-Elect Enrique Pena Nieto (2nd R) looks on before a dinner meeting at the U.S. Capitol November 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)2012 Getty Images
As part of its ongoing effort to strengthen economic ties between the U.S. and Mexico, a delegation from the Department of State is in Mexico City to roll out the newly-created U.S.-Mexico Business Facilitation Program.
The goal of the new program is to increase trade and job creation in both countries by expediting visa processing for employees of qualifying businesses.
The delegation, led by Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez, will meet with top economic officials from President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration as well as Mexican business and organization leaders.
According to Enrique Alvarez, head of Latin America fixed-income research at IdeaGlobal in New York, the new program is meant to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries.
Under past administrations “certain areas have been sort of off-limits to U.S. businesses,” Alvarez said. Now that a new administration is in place in Mexico, he added, “the U.S. wants to learn more about what the inner workings are and what the real aims are behind.”
He also noted that since Mexico is not a real source of consumption of U.S. goods, this new program is “probably going to be more beneficial to Mexico.”
Raul Rodriguez, foreign investment specialist at the Free Trade Alliance, said the creation program proves that, despite a change in administration in Mexico, the two countries continue to need to keep working closely.
“Especially with the new second term for President Obama and the new president in Mexico,” said Rodriguez, “the relationship between both countries is only getting stronger.”
Mexico's economy is growing at a rate of four percent a year, according to the International Monetary Fund -- that's a faster rate than Brazil, the leading Latin American economy in recent years. Mexico is now a close second and, at this rate, is expected to surpass Brazil in as little as a decade.
Mexico is the biggest exporter in Latin America. Over 80 percent of the country's exports are sent to the United States.
In 2012, trade between the two nations amounted to nearly $460 billion.
According to the Census, trade between Mexico and the U.S. makes up over 13 percent of the total goods traded between the U.S. and any country.
Since the beginning of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S. and Mexico in 1994, trade has more than quadrupled between the two countries.