AUSTIN, TEXAS – Business orders on the Mexican side of the border have been hurt by uncertainty caused by “static,” says Texas Secretary of State Rolando B. Pablos.
This in turn is hurting suppliers on the Texas side of the border, Pablos told a delegation of civic and economic development leaders from Cameron County at the state Capitol on Tuesday.
“What is hurting us right now is the uncertainty that all this static is creating. So, you have a lot of manufacturing operations on the Mexican side that has held back on any type of expansion,” Pablos said. “Orders are slowing down so U.S. side suppliers are not getting the orders they were getting. So, that is something that is concerning.”
Pablos spoke to the Cameron County delegation in the old Supreme Court room at the state Capitol. He said he sees part of his job as secretary of state, a role that includes overseeing Texas’ relations with Mexico, as pushing back against all the negativity that has been hurled at Texas’ top trading partner over the past few months. In his remarks to leaders from Brownsville, Harlingen and San Benito Pablos did not mention President Trump by name.
“My job as Secretary of State is to make sure that the relationship at the local level, at the state level, at the federal level, particularly with Mexico, continues to grow,” Pablos said.
“So, we have been working diligently to ensure not only that we push all the negativity aside but focus on the great things to come. I am very optimistic about what is to come. We do have some bumps in the road but at the end of the day we are going to have a better situation for Texas and Mexico. Texas being the tenth largest economy in the world, Mexico being the 12th largest, you put us together and suddenly we are the sixth largest economy in the world, Texas and Mexico.”
Pablos pointed out that he recently visited Mexico City to meet with the foreign affairs secretariat. That is Mexico’s secretary of state’s office. He said he met with Mexico’s undersecretary for North America.
“The reason for my visit was to make sure they understand that the Texas-Mexico relationship is strong, that our friendship is strong. Not only are we neighbors, we are good friends and we are excellent business partners. We are excellent partners in commerce,” Pablos said.
“All of the noise that we hear around Washington really doesn’t affect the messaging we have, which is, we are neighbors, and we are going to continue to be good friends. That is what we have been out there doing. I have met with the Under Secretary of Energy, Aldo Flores. Energy is one of our top exports to Mexico. We want to make sure not only that we can export our top products to Mexico but also have opportunities for Texans to invest in Mexico.”
Pablos said one of the things that is “within our control in Texas” is working with the Texas Department of Transportation to make sure sufficient investment is coming to the border for infrastructure that will facilitate trade.
“So, we are working with TxDOT as the border commerce coordinator. I chair a committee that is called the Border Trade Advisory Committee that works with many of the folks in your communities to develop policy that benefits the border community, as it relates to commerce, as it relates to infrastructure,” Pablos told the Cameron County delegation.
In a Q&A session after his remarks, Pablos was asked how well he was received in Mexico City. He said that was a very good question.
“There was a little coldness to the reception. They are very generous, they want to have that discussion. But, it wasn’t what you would expect,” Pablos responded.
“The great thing about it was that at the end of our discussions, everybody agreed that we should work together. Everybody came together in all of our meetings, especially our meetings with the private sector. I met with the highest level private sector officials in Mexico. And the discussion was, we need to work together, we need to continue to send the right message.”
Pablos, a former CEO of the Borderplex Alliance in El Paso, said he was interviewed by Mexico’s largest newspaper, El Universal, while he was in Mexico City.
“I had a really good discussion with them. I think that bringing positive and optimistic news is very important and so the minute I arrived I felt a little coldness but you know what, I think that went away instantly when we started talking about the substantive things that we needed to discuss. All in all, I would give it (the trip to Mexico City) an A-Plus. It was needed. It was definitely needed. We needed to get down there.”
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series featuring Texas’ new secretary of state. Part Two, focusing on Rolando Pablos’ work with The Borderplex Alliance, will be posted on Thursday, March 9, 2017.