THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Tuesday, February 15, 1999
STRENGTHENING OUR TIES WITH MEXICO
The agreements we signed today cap a remarkable decade of close partnership... President Zedillo and I have invested a great deal in this partnership, and we will keep doing so. We intend to lay the groundwork for the next generation of leaders - who will build the legacy we have worked so hard to create. The way we approach our problems will define how we live our lives for decades to come.
President Bill Clinton
February 15, 1999
President Clinton will meet with Mexican President Zedillo to continue advancing our strong bilateral relationship and forge a number of new cooperative agreements to increase trade and investment, strengthen our counter-drug control efforts, protect our environment, and support relief efforts in the wake of natural disasters.
Continuing A Strong Economic Partnership. Mexico is one of America's most important trade partners, second only to Canada as a foreign market for U.S. exports. Our strong trade relations have helped insulate Mexico and the United States against economic turbulence abroad. Five years after NAFTA and four years after President Clinton led international efforts to stabilize the economy of Mexico, our bilateral trade is still expanding and our economies are growing. Indeed, Mexico alone has accounted for nearly 20% of total U.S. merchandise export growth over the past five years.
Supporting Democratic Transformation. Our economic partnership has also aided Mexico's impressive progress in strengthening its democracy. President Zedillo has launched far-reaching democratic reforms, and next year's Presidential election promises to be the most competitive in Mexico's history. The Mexican government has also made tough decisions to expose and root out corruption, strengthen its law enforcement institutions, and work effectively with U.S. law enforcement authorities to fight problems that threaten both nations.
Cooperation in Meeting Common Challenges. The United States and Mexico have joined together in tackling problems both our nations face:
- Drug Control -- In implementing the Alliance Against Drugs that President Clinton and President Zedillo announced in May 1997, the United States and Mexico are cooperating closely to reduce the demand for and supply of illegal drugs, including efforts to arrest drug traffickers and seize narcotics. Under President Zedillo's leadership, Mexico has committed itself to increased drug control efforts, extraditing a number of suspects in drug-related crimes, and eradicating large areas of opium and marijuana production. During this trip, the two leaders aim to finalize benchmarks for measuring the effectiveness of both our drug control efforts.
- Environmental Protection -- The United States and Mexico have made progress toward improving water and air quality and achieving a clean and healthy environment by: developing sanitation, flood control, and water conservation systems; building new sewage and wastewater treatment plants near the border; and combating forest fires that pollute our skies. President Clinton and President Zedillo will discuss ways of assessing and mitigating environmental degradation affecting both countries.
- Migration -- Each year, over 111,000 Mexicans legally immigrate to the United States, making enormous contributions to America's economy and culture. Mexicans constitute 28% of our foreign-born population, and almost 15 million Americans trace their ancestry to Mexico. Mexico is also the single greatest source of illegal immigration to the United States. President Clinton and President Zedillo both recognize this problem, and are working to control illegal migration and enhance safety along the 2,000 mile border we share.
- Disaster Relief -- When Hurricane Mitch swept through Central America, Mexico joined the United States in conducting rescue operations and providing humanitarian relief. Our joint efforts to assist in Central America's recovery will reduce the chances that the hurricane's destruction leads to increased crime, corruption and dislocation in the region. Mexico also joined the United States and other nations in search and rescue operations in Colombia in the aftermath of the recent earthquake there.