ConnectMEX: U.S.-Mexico Transport and Telecom Conference - Welcome Remarks
Mexico City, Mexico
The Honorable Leocadia I. Zak, Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency
May 29, 2014 — Good morning. Thank you, Nathan, for that kind introduction. On behalf of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, as well as all of our sponsors and supporting organizations, bienvenidos to ConnectMEX.
When President Obama was here around this same time last year, he said that the United States and Mexico should "do more to expand trade and commerce that creates good jobs for our people." Pointing out the large amount of trade and investment that currently takes place between our countries, President Obama committed to helping it "grow stronger and become broader" because, as he said, "we believe in Mexico and want to be a partner in your success." 1
That is why we are here today – to be a partner in Mexico's success.
We commend President Peña Nieto and the leadership of the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation in planning for Mexico's future. As most of you know, SCT is moving forward with an impressive strategy to invest more than $100 billion over the next five years for priority transportation and telecommunications projects. From modernizing the Hidalgo airport to expanding the national fiber optic network, these projects will help enhance Mexico's infrastructure in order to improve the daily lives of its people.
It is amazing to consider how interconnected the world has become. It has never before been this quick and this easy to communicate, or to travel great distances. For example, just last week I was in Ghana and Nigeria. After a brief layover at home, I am now here in beautiful Mexico City. But next week – after another quick stop in DC – I will return to Africa, this time to Ethiopia and South Africa. For those of you keeping track – and I certainly hope the airlines are taking note – that is a total of over 65,000 miles in only 22 days. And the whole time I am able to keep in touch with my team through global communications networks. All you have to do is look around the room to see such systems at work here today.
These connections could not be more important for Mexico and the U.S., which share a 2,000-mile border. There are already countless interconnections in and between our two countries, and new networks are being added every day. How can we strengthen and improve these connections? We organized this conference to explore opportunities to do just that.
This event could not be timelier. In the two decades since NAFTA was signed, trade between Mexico and the United States has grown by nearly 10% annually. In fact, products traded between Mexico and the U.S. set a new historical record of over $500 billion last year.2
We at USTDA would like to strengthen this relationship by partnering with Mexico to help it achieve its priorities in the transportation and telecommunications sectors. There are numerous examples of how USTDA has already worked with Mexico to make advances in these areas.
For example, over a decade ago, we provided technical assistance to help SCT develop a national architecture for intelligent transportation systems. SCT was looking for solutions that would enable citizens to use transportation networks in safer, smarter ways. As a result of this project, U.S. software was adapted and incorporated into a national traveler information system called InfoViaje that provides assistance and information to drivers on Mexico's highways.
And this nationwide success has also led to specific follow-on activities at the state level. We are currently funding a project that will allow the State of Puebla's Secretariat of Transportation to assess whether to integrate similar technologies as part of a new rapid transit system for buses.
We also funded an Airport Development and Management Study for the Airports and Auxiliary Services of Mexico, which operates 18 airports around the country. The project focused on optimizing the facilities and equipment at 4 airports in order to add non-stop flights from Cuernavaca, Puebla, Queretaro and Toluca to the United States. We are pleased that new non-stop flights – such as from Puebla to Dallas and Toluca to Fort Lauderdale – are currently underway, and we hope that additional direct routes will be added in the near future.
In addition to project planning activities, we also bring our Mexican partners to the United States to introduce them to U.S. technologies and best practices that can help them develop their infrastructure projects. In 2010, we brought Mexican transportation officials – including representatives from SCT, the Port of Altamira and Ferrovalle – for tours of U.S. multimodal terminals and meetings with U.S. technology and equipment suppliers. This visit has helped to develop multimodal transportation corridors in Mexico using U.S. solutions.
We also convene stakeholders from Mexico and the U.S. at conferences like this one. The goal of ConnectMEX is to link U.S. companies with the most promising transportation and telecommunications projects that are being developed in Mexico.
I am confident that this event will meet that goal. We have developed an agenda – as well as a project resource guide – that will allow you to connect with other attendees who are interested in the same projects as you are. I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity that this conference offers to build relationships.
We have the right people in the room today to do just that. USTDA is privileged to host ConnectMEX in partnership with Mexico's Secretariat of Communications and Transportation. We are honored to have with us such high-level representatives from Mexico, led by Deputy Secretary Almada, who we will hear from shortly. We are also joined by IFT Commissioner Borjon and Secretary Gali from the State of Puebla.
I am also pleased to welcome some of my colleagues from the U.S. government, including Ambassador Wayne from the Embassy here in Mexico City and Director Mulvaney from the Export-Import Bank. Their participation demonstrates the United States' commitment to strengthening the connections between our two countries. It also shows how important the transportation and telecommunications sectors are to the United States.
Before I close, I wish to recognize our supporting organizations – AAAE, Business Development Partners, CG/LA Infrastructure and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – as well as our corporate sponsors – PwC, Argus Consulting, ManattJones Global Strategies, Parsons Corporation, Unisys and Universal Weather and Aviation. I also wish to thank our conference organizer, the Business Council for International Understanding. This event would not have been possible without their contributions.
We are also privileged to be joined by many leaders and innovators from the private sector. They represent organizations that can help us realize the goal of transit and communications networks that can closely connect our countries.
In the future, I would love to hear that the organizations here today have built relationships that have enabled them to become partners in strengthening Mexico's transportation and telecommunications infrastructure. As President Obama said, "The relationship between our nations must be defined… by the prosperity and the opportunity that we can create together." 3 Let us use this conference as a platform to work together to create prosperity and opportunity for Mexico and for the United States.
 Remarks by President Obama to the People of Mexico, in Mexico City, Mexico, on May 3, 2013, available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/03/remarks-president-people-mexico, last accessed May 2014.
 Mexico's Ministry of the Economy, NAFTA Trade Office, March 2014, http://www.naftamexico.net/.
 Remarks by President Obama to the People of Mexico.
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