Ms. Sharon E. Abrams, Chair of the Council of the Better Business Bureau.

Members of the Board of the Better Business Bureau,

Ms. Carrie Hurt, Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Council or Better Business Bureau,

Bernardo Altamirano, Leader of the Mexican BBB Prospective Team

Ladies and gentlemen,

An old African saying states that there are two ideal moments to plant a tree. Twenty years ago, and right now.

Almost twenty years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement launched with a bilateral trade of 81 billion dollars. In 2012, bilateral trade grew to 494 billion dollars. This means that trade between Mexico and the U.S. has grown sixfold, growing 10% annually. It also means that, at present, Mexico and the US trade 1 million dollars a minute.

Moreover, as a result of geographic proximity, supply chain integration, cultural bonds, and the certainty of rules laid out two decades ago by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the North American region has become highly integrated economically and one of the most competitive in the world. U.S. value-added in Mexican manufacturing exports is about 37%, which is ten times higher than the 3.7% of U.S. value-added in Chinese manufacturing exports. This synergy has created a win-win relationship so that when Mexico exports, the U.S. exports as well.

Although we are already a strong integrated economy, we need to plant a new tree that will ensure our success continues to blossom for generations to come, and this is the time to do it. A renewed effort to reduce transaction costs for all those businesses that have prospered under Nafta is much needed. Certainly, border infrastructure and logistics are areas that need to be addressed as more than 80 per cent of our trade crosses the border by land.

But we also recognize that regulations are key elements in our trade relationship. In this respect, both countries are committed to improving bilateral regulatory cooperation aimed at making regulations more compatible, reducing regulatory burdens, and increasing transparency and predictability that work to ensure environmental protection, health and safety. A better regulatory framework will ultimately lower trade costs for consumers, businesses, and producers, and support growth, productivity, investment and innovation.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this respect, the presence of the BBB in Mexico will be a strategic advantage for the region. The sum of its members which are global companies is impressive, but even more impressive is the large membership of small and medium-sized companies. SMEs in Mexico constitute a highly important part of the economy because of their contribution to creating jobs and to economic growth. There are more than four million companies today in Mexico, 99.8 per cent of which are small and medium sized. They constitute 52 per cent of our Gross National Product and 72 per cent of the country’s jobs.

The new office of the Better Business Bureau in Mexico would fulfill many roles: as a catalyst of rules and practices that enhance competitiveness, quality and responsibility, and as a provider of incentives to businesses seeking to enter the formal economy, among others.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The North American economic region needs to see these types of initiatives expand and flourish. Our market economies work best if we have informed consumers and trustworthy businesses. I want to thank the Better Business Bureau and its board members for their interest in Mexico, and to recognize the effort of the people who have worked long and hard to see this project come to fruition. Having this organization, with such a longstanding record of effective work will certainly contribute to fortify our economies and bring our businesses closer together.

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