By Governor Greg Abbott
Texas and Mexico share more than a border; we are connected by commerce, culture and family.
As I travel to Mexico this week – my first international visit as governor of Texas – I look forward to continuing my dialogue with Mexican officials to improve bilateral relations, expand our long-standing trade partnership, discuss obvious challenges like immigration and water, and ultimately expand economic prosperity for families on both sides of the border.
Texas exports more goods than any other U.S. state, and Mexico is our top trade partner by far.
In 2014, Texas exported more than $100 billion in machinery, technology and other commodities to Mexico, about 35 percent of the state’s total exports. These exports sustain tens of thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses in Texas and more than 1.1 million jobs. We also imported more than $90 billion of goods from our southern neighbor last year.
Ties between Texas and Mexico began before we became a state. Today, about one-third of Texans trace their roots to Mexico, including my wife whose maternal grandparents immigrated to Texas from Monterrey. And the shared values of our families transcend geographic borders.
To advance Texas’ relationship with Mexico, my first appointment as governor was to name Carlos Cascos – a county judge from the Rio Grande Valley – as secretary of state of Texas. His first official international mission was a visit to Mexico City in April, and we were proud to host the first Texas visit by Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary since 2003.
I now look forward to continuing our dialogue, to cultivate an even stronger bond and create more opportunities to expand trade.
New jobs and new opportunity for growth abound on both sides of the border. As the Texas economy grows, more companies from Mexico are investing in Texas, building new facilities here in the Lone Star State and merging with or acquiring existing businesses.
With that growth comes the need for additional resources and infrastructure. Farmers and ranchers in Texas and Mexico share a critical need for adequate water for crop irrigation and cattle, and we’ve seen increased collaboration between our two countries in complying with water treaty requirements and better management of existing water assets. Over the next few years, we hope to see additional opportunities for water storage and improved planning for times of drought.
In addition, with Mexico’s oil and gas sector now opening to outside investors, Texas stands ready to help Mexico reduce energy costs. We are already seeing this promise in the planned expansion of natural gas pipelines from Texas into the industrial center of Monterrey and with the recent approval by the U.S. Department of Commerce for crude oil swaps with Mexico. But more can be done.
In building bridges to strengthen our economies, however, we cannot be naïve to the threat posed to the people of Texas and Mexico by transnational criminal enterprises, their violence and their gangs. Working together, we must end cross-border illegal activity including drug trafficking and the heinous crime of human trafficking to ensure greater security and opportunity for all.
Our history is strong. Our working relationship must be stronger. That is why Mexico is my first international visit as governor of Texas. Working together, we will build an even better future.