Freight Transport, Border Infrastructure Among Areas of Progress Reported by U.S. and Mexico
U.S. and Mexican officials reported June 27 a number of achievements under their High Level Economic Dialogue, which was established in September 2013 to advance strategic economic and commercial priorities. The HLED meets annually at the cabinet level while sub-cabinet members work throughout the year with private sector leaders on ways to make North America’s shared economy stronger and more efficient. The next cabinet-level HLED meeting will take place this fall.
A Department of Commerce press release outlines accomplishments made to date. The two sides exchanged information on traffic and freight modeling with the goal of coordinating their strategic freight plans. They completed five of six border master plans designed to better coordinate infrastructure and development in border communities and launched two border cluster mapping pilots to identify local industry assets to develop regional economic development strategies. A memorandum of intent was signed regarding cooperation on investment promotion, and the first Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship allowed businesses and government leaders to tour technology centers, innovation hubs and investment zones in the southeast U.S. The two partners began negotiations to modernize their bilateral air service agreement, held a conference highlighting opportunities in Mexico’s National Infrastructure Plan, and made plans to move forward on an intelligent transportation systems collaboration to facilitate the flow of freight and passenger vehicles.
Under an initial HLED work plan the U.S. and Mexico are working together under three broad pillars: promoting competitiveness and connectivity; fostering economic growth, productivity, entrepreneurship and innovation; and partnering for regional and global leadership. Efforts within these two pillars including improving logistics networks, jointly promoting investment, deepening regulatory cooperation, strengthening and making more efficient the shared border, and advancing trade liberalization at the regional and global levels. Specific steps planned, in addition to those mentioned above, include the following.
- exploring expanded short sea shipping/marine highway networks
- strengthening logistics networks and efficient trucking services and jointly identifying and developing strategic multimodal logistics corridors
- supporting a single rail manifest that will facilitate bilateral trade and increase customs and trade compliance
- continuing implementation of the joint cargo prescreening programs at selected facilities
- expanding trusted trader programs with the aim of mutual recognition
- strengthening advanced manufacturing capabilities via a pilot project to identify supply chain challenges and opportunities
- facilitating trade in safe food and agricultural products by identifying additional ways to facilitate cross-border movement of goods
- developing effective approaches to deepening regulatory cooperation, removing unnecessary regulatory barriers to trade, reducing costs to business and improving product quality and safety
- coordinating and expediting the execution of port of entry projects and identifying binational mechanisms to match the planning and construction time spans for projects
- establishing a working group to identify priority areas to support Central American customs agencies