Background

The U.S. and Mexico have made little progress on trade-related measures included in a high-level economic dialogue relaunched in September 2021. The two sides said at the time that the goal of the HLED is to “build back from the impact of the global pandemic, promote inclusive trade and investment, prepare our workforces for the future, and strengthen regional supply chains.”

A fact sheet issued after a Sept. 12 HLED meeting indicates that on trade issues the two sides have not accomplished much so far. In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic they did align requirements with international standards for the importation and production of medical devices. In other key areas, however, action to date appears to have been limited to discussion, including (1) in a supply chain working group that is initially focusing on semiconductor and information and communications technology supply chains, (2) a reiterated commitment to invest in border infrastructure and modernization projects, including $1.5 billion from Mexico and $3.4 billion from the U.S. for 26 major projects at land ports of entry, and (3) plans to establish a subcommittee allowing officials to cooperate during emergency situations in order to maintain, reestablish, or otherwise address issues related to the flow of trade in North America.

There may be some progress on these issues in the near term. Concerning semiconductor and ICT supply chains, a joint statement said the U.S. and Mexico will (1) work to identify locations with the right skillsets, infrastructure, and industrial capabilities for greater investment in these industries, (2) pursue a pilot project to determine the feasibility of nearshoring semiconductor manufacturing inputs and support the further integration of small and medium-sized enterprises into these supply chains, and (3) work toward supporting regulatory compatibility and risk mitigation on ICT, cybersecurity, telecommunications, and infrastructure issues.

Officials also discussed issues such as the digital economy and supply chain resilience, though no further details were provided. Reports made no mention of other issues the HLED is designed to surface such as expediting cross-border trade flows and enhancing cross-border data flows and interoperability.

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