WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Henry Cuellar and Diputado Mario Martín Delgado Carrillo, co-chairs of the US-Mexico Interparliamentary Group, recently hosted a virtual meeting to discuss USMCA and ways to improve US-Mexico relations.

The U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group has met regularly since 1961 to bring together legislators from both countries to discuss priority issues and identify ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

“After three years of intense negotiations, signing by each country’s trade ambassadors, and passage of the agreement in U.S., Canadian, and Mexican legislative bodies, the $1.5 billion tri-lateral trade agreement is now in force,” said Congressman Cuellar of Laredo, Texas.

Diputado Mario Martín Delgado Carrillo

“The North American Free Trade Agreement gave rise to the greatest display of economic growth in the history of Texas, United States, Mexico, and Canada. Now that the USMCA is in force, we will brighten that future and continue to make North America the economic, cultural, and societal envy of the world. As the Chairman of the U.S.-Mexico IPG, I will continue to work with my Mexican counterparts to strengthen our bilateral relationship and enhance the economic growth of our two nations.”

Cuellar said he wanted to thank the Majority Leader of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies, Mario Delgado for “his dedication to finalizing this trade agreement and strengthening our trade partnership so we bring further economic prosperity to both countries.”

Cuellar pointed out that the trade relationship between the United States and Mexico is becoming increasingly more important. He said 2019 was a record year for U.S.-Mexico trade as the two countries exchanged nearly $700 billion in goods and services. Citing information from the U.S. Chamber, Cuellar said nearly $1.7 billion in goods flow across the border every day. In addition, 6.3 million trucks and just under 500,000 loaded rail containers crossed.

Building on this success, as trade continues to rebound between the United States and Mexico, Cuellar said he is working to improve coordination on essential business designations to ensure domestic economies have access to each other’s critical cross-border supply chains. These designations will be coordinated and reciprocated by both governments given the reliance domestic economies have on international exchanges, he said.

U. S. Rep. Henry Cuellar

Cuellar described USMCA as “a revolutionary modernization of the 25-year-old NAFTA into a 21st century, high-standard agreement.” He said trade agreement will support mutually beneficial trade leading to freer markets, fairer trade, and robust economic growth in North America. 

“There are number of achievements that make this agreement historic, including provisions on the environment, intellectual property, and labor,” Cuellar said. 

With regard to labor, Cuellar said the United States, Mexico, and Canada agreed to a bring labor obligations to the core of USMCA and represents the strongest provisions for labor of any trade agreement. He pointed out the Labor chapter includes an Annex on Worker Representation in Collective Bargaining in Mexico, under which Mexico commits to specific legislative actions to provide for the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. The Labor chapter also requires the three countries to adopt and maintain in law and practice labor rights as recognized by the International Labor Organization, to effectively enforce their labor laws, and not to waive from their labor laws.

“To support North American jobs, the deal contains new trade rules of origin to drive higher wages by requiring that 40-45 percent of auto content be made by workers earning at least USD $16 per hour,” Cuellar said.

Southwest Border Regional Commission

Congressman Cuellar also reports securing $250,000 in federal funding for the Southwest Border Regional Commission through the fiscal year 2021 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.

Cuellar said the SBRC was created to address economic distress in the southern border regions of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.

Cuellar said the $33,000,000 authorized will get the Commission off the ground, and allow a federal co-chair to be appointed.

“The Southwest Border Regional Commission was created to address the economic challenges faced by communities along the border. However, the SRBC lacks the necessary federal funding to address these challenges,” Cuellar said. 

“That’s why I worked hard to secure this initial funding for the Commission so we can build critical infrastructure, expand our workforce, and strengthen our communities. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I am committed to funding programs that encourage economic opportunity and community development on our southern border.”

The Southwest Border Regional Commission is one of seven authorized federal regional commissions and authorities, which are congressionally-chartered, federal-state partnerships created to provide economic development in their respective areas. 

Cuellar said the funding will assist border communities create prosperity so they are self-sustaining, repopulating, and economically thriving.

“According to a report, if we took the forty-three counties along the Texas border and made it the 51st state, it would rank 1st in poverty and unemployment, with a per capita income at $15,570, which is below the poverty line for a household of four. This state would also rank 1st in Spanish spoken at home, 16th largest state in the country, 3rd largest with a foreign born population, 3rd largest with a female head of household, 5th largest with civilian population in military duty,” a Cuellar news release stated.

By law, the Commission would work for a total of 93 counties on the southwest border – Arizona (10 counties), California (7), New Mexico (11), and Texas (65). 

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