The Baker Institute Mexico Center provides policymakers, the public and industry leaders with quality, data-driven analysis of the policy issues that affect Mexico and the United States. The center’s nonpartisan research assists public policy coordination by framing problems, providing policy alternatives and contributing to informed decisions that consider both U.S. and Mexican interests.
In conjunction with actors in both countries, the Mexico Center envisions a future in which coordinated policy decisions maximize benefits for all who live in the North American region.
In order to facilitate the task of public policy coordination between Mexico and the United States, the center reaches out to scholars and other experts to produce original, empirical research on issues such as trade, energy and human mobility; fosters the exchange of ideas through public events that bring together decision-makers from both sides of the border; and gathers input from government officials, the private sector and the general public to develop effective and pragmatic policy recommendations.
The Mexico Center would like to thank the following for their generous support:
- The Honorable James A. Baker, III
- Estate of Deanna D. Emerson, M.D.
- The Honorable Thomas F. McLarty III and Mrs. McLarty
- Mexican Council of Businessmen
- Peter Jay Sharp Foundation
- Members of the Mexico Forum
Research and Activities
The center’s research agenda focuses primarily on four issues of concern to both Mexico and the United States.
- The U.S.-Mexico Border
Legal flows of trade, tourists, shoppers and students as well as illegal flows of illicit drugs and undocumented migrants have made the U.S.-Mexico border the epicenter of disagreements between the two countries. Yet the border is crucial to the prosperity and the security of both countries. The Mexico Center works closely with the policy community to develop alternatives for better border management between the U.S. and Mexico.
Until 2013, Mexico’s energy sector was largely closed to international investment, and the country’s energy policy had a domestic rather than international focus. However, as global energy markets are diversifying, Mexico has begun to reform its energy sector, including its oil, gas and electricity subsidiaries. Along with the Baker Institute’s internationally recognized Center for Energy Studies, the Mexico Center focuses on energy reform and its implementation, including its political feasibility, regulatory framework, ability to attract new investment, and impact on Mexico’s energy future.
- The Rule of Law
Mexico ranks poorly in global rule of law indices, scoring near the bottom on issues such as corruption, transparency, judicial system effectiveness and human and due process rights. This is a major concern for U.S.-Mexico relations because it hinders cooperation on shared issues such as law enforcement, immigration, drug trafficking, labor mobility and others. National security and an inadequate justice system are major challenges to continued economic and political progress in Mexico. The public safety and security crisis caused by organized crime and drug trafficking continues unabated; this issue has the potential to eclipse all progress in the other key aspects of the U.S.-Mexico relationship. The Mexico Center seeks to leverage current cooperative efforts between the two countries while proposing policy alternatives for a more effective justice system and rule of law in Mexico.
- Trade and Economics
Trade is central to the economies of Mexico and the United States, and is the foundation for the integration of manufacturing chains across North America. The Mexico Center examines trade patterns, the impact of other trade blocs on the economic relationship, the regional and global institutional structures that shape binational trade, and new opportunities for comparative trade advantages within the region. Through its research, the center aims to increase the welfare derived from commercial exchanges for the benefit of both countries.
Other Areas of Interest
The Mexico Center also responds to key issues of the day and their policy impact on the dynamic relationship between Mexico and the United States.
- Mexican Politics and Democracy
For most of its history, Mexico has been governed by the PRI, which held power for more than seven decades before being defeated at the polls by the PAN in 2000. Since then, the PAN and the PRD, the two main opposition parties, as well as other smaller parties, have had electoral victories at both the national and local levels, and have increased their representation and participation in Congress. However, the legacy of the long PRI era has made the transition to a true democracy difficult for Mexico. The Mexico Center focuses on efforts to improve the rule of law and democratic governance in the country, with special attention to the electoral process and the changes proposed in recent reforms to the system.
- Human Mobility
With more than 300 million legal crossings per year, the U.S.-Mexico border is one of the world’s most dynamic areas of human mobility. About one million Americans now live, work and vacation in Mexico, more than in any other country. Conversely, since 1980, Mexico has been the number one source of immigration to the United States. Thousands of students from Mexico attend American universities and the U.S. receives more tourists from Mexico than from any other country except Canada. Despite this connectivity, human mobility between the United States and Mexico remains controversial, as reflected by the failure of the U.S. Congress to address immigration reform.
Binational cooperation on education issues would greatly benefit both countries, as well as the overall competitiveness of the North American region. At the same time, it would contribute to Mexico’s development and potentially impact migration flows from Mexico to the United States. Both countries’ presidents recently expressed their desire to coordinate education policies. The proposed areas of cooperation aim to facilitate competitiveness through workforce development, student and scholar mobility, and research partnerships. The Mexico Center focuses on each of these important components, as outlined by Presidents Obama and Peña in a May 2013 agreement.
Mexico’s economy has been characterized by monopolistic and oligopolistic markets, particularly in the telecommunications sector. In 2013, the country passed a telecommunications reform bill designed to open the industry to foreign and domestic investment, in an attempt to introduce greater competition for market share in services such as internet and mobile products, as well as television and cable. The ultimate goal is to modernize the nation’s telecommunications sector and lower prices for consumers. The Mexico Center will continue to evaluate new telecommunications policies, their implementation over the next few years and the expected effects of the reform in the coming decade.
- Health Care
Binational flows of pharmaceuticals, health care services, health workers and technologies are becoming common. The regulatory apparatus for these markets is understudied and probably inadequate to serve the needs of the growing health care sectors in Mexico and the United States. The Mexico Center’s health care research explores the integration of these markets, their structure and possible ways for both nations to maximize the advantages of integration in terms of cost, technology and accessibility.