Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

O'Neil analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region.

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Mexico and the United States, Two Nations Indivisible

by Shannon K. O'Neil
March 18, 2013

A woman holds a Mexican flag and a U.S. flag at a May Day rally for immigrants' and workers' rights in Portland, Oregon, May 1, 2007. A woman holds a Mexican flag and a U.S. flag at a May Day rally for immigrants' and workers' rights in Portland, Oregon, May 1, 2007 (Richard Clement/Courtesy Reuters).


Mexico and the United States are linked closer than ever through trade, bi-national communities, security concerns, and a shared democratic vision. In this interview with Emerging Markets, I spoke with Antonia Oprita about what the challenges and opportunities are for the relationship and why it matters so much for both countries. For a more in-depth analysis, check out my new book, Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead.

When it comes to Mexico, people usually think about the security issue, and that’s what much of the news coverage has been. But underneath that, behind the headlines, we have seen a transformation of Mexico’s economy over the last couple of decades: it has moved from a very closed, inward-looking economy, one whose exports were dominated by oil, to an economy that is one of the most open and increasingly competitive in the world. In measures like trade to GDP, Mexico outpaces not just the United States or places like Brazil, but it outpaces China. It is quite an open and competitive economy now.

A big part of that is due to its deepening ties to the United States. Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed almost twenty years ago, we have seen the creation of regional supply chains for a myriad of different types of industries and companies. For every product that is imported from Mexico in the United States, on average 40 percent of it would actually have been made in the U.S. It has become a very symbiotic relationship, and it has become an integrated economy in many ways and in many sectors, and particularly in manufacturing. There, we see almost seamless integration in some companies, where production happens on both sides of the border. What it means is these economies, companies and industries are now not only intimately tied, but permanently tied at this point.

To read the full interview, click here.

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