Friday, March 5, 2010

Dzidzantún / México / Official Name

Official Name:
United Mexican States

Dzidzantún / México / Geography

Area: 1,972,550 sq. km. (761,600 sq. mi.); about three times the size of Texas.
Cities: Capital--Mexico City (22 million, estimate for metro area). Other major cities--Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, Torreón, León, San Luís Potosí, Mérida, Veracruz, Acapulco, Oaxaca and Cancún .
Terrain: Coastal lowlands, central high plateaus, and mountains up to 5,400 m. (18,000 ft.).
Climate: Tropical to desert.

Dzidzantún / México / People Stats

People Stats
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Mexican(s).
Population (July 2009 est.): 111,211,789.
Annual growth rate (2009 est.): 1.13%.
Ethnic groups: Indian-Spanish (mestizo) 60%, Indian 30%, Caucasian 9%, other 1%.
Religions (2000 census): Roman Catholic 76.5%, Protestant 6%, other 0.3%, unspecified 13.8%, none 3.1%.
Language: Spanish.
Education: Years compulsory--11 (note: preschool education was made mandatory in Dec. 2001). Literacy--91.4%.
Health (2009): Infant mortality rate--18.42/1,000. Life expectancy--male 73.25 years; female 79 years.
Work force (2008 est., 45.5 million): Agriculture, forestry, hunting, fishing--21.0%; services--32.2%; commerce--16.9%; manufacturing--18.7%; construction--5.6%; transportation and communication--4.5%; mining and quarrying--1.0%.

Dzidzantún / México / Government Stats

Government Stats
Type: Federal Republic.
Independence: First proclaimed September 16, 1810; Republic established 1824.
Constitution: February 5, 1917.
Branches: Executive--president (Chief of state and head of government). Legislative--bicameral. Judicial--Supreme Court, local and federal systems.
Administrative subdivisions: 31 states and a federal district.
Political parties: Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), National Action Party (PAN), Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Green Ecological Party (PVEM), Labor Party (PT), and several small parties.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.

Dzidzantún / México / Economy Stats

Economy Stats
GDP (official exchange rate, 2008): $1.088 trillion; (2009 est.) $866 billion.
GDP (PPP method, 2008): $1.550 trillion; (2009 est.) $1.459 trillion. Per capita GDP (PPP method (IMF), 2008): $14,534; (2009 est.) $13,542.
Annual real GDP growth: (2009 est.) -6.8% (-7.3% IMF est.); (2008) 1.3%; (2007) 3.3%; (2006) 5.1%; (2005) 3.2%; (2004) 4.0%; (2003) 1.4%.
Inflation rate: (2009 est.) 3.75%-4.25%; (2008) 6.5%; (2007) 3.8%; (2006) 3.4%; (2005) 3.3%; (2004) 5.2%; (2003) 4.0%.
Natural resources: Petroleum, silver, copper, gold, lead, zinc, natural gas, timber.
Agriculture (4% of GDP): Products--corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, beans, cotton, coffee, fruit, tomatoes, beef, poultry, dairy products, wood products.
Industry (31% of GDP): Types--food and beverages, tobacco, chemicals, iron and steel, petroleum, mining, textiles, clothing, motor vehicles, consumer durables.
Services (64% of GDP): Types--commerce and tourism, financial services, transportation and communications.
Trade (goods): Exports (2008)--$292 billion f.o.b. Imports (2008)--$309 billion f.o.b. Exports to U.S. (2008)--$234 billion (80% of total). Imports from U.S. (2008)--$151 billion (49% of total). Major markets--U.S., EU, Canada.

Dzidzantún / México / People

Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world and the second most-populous country in Latin America after Portuguese-speaking Brazil. About 76% of the people live in urban areas. Many Mexicans emigrate from rural areas that lack job opportunities--such as the underdeveloped southern states and the crowded central plateau--to the industrialized urban centers and the developing areas along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to some estimates, the population of the area around Mexico City is nearly 22 million, which would make it the largest concentration of population in the Western Hemisphere. Cities bordering on the United States--such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez--and cities in the interior--such as Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Puebla--have undergone sharp rises in population in recent years.

Mexico has made great strides in improving access to education and literacy rates over the past few decades. According to a 2006 World Bank report, enrollment at the primary level is nearly universal, and more children are completing primary education. The average number of years of schooling for the population 15 years old and over was around eight years during the 2004-2005 school year, a marked improvement on a decade earlier--when it was 6.8 years--but low compared with other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.

Dzidzantún / México / History

Highly developed cultures, including those of the Olmecs, Mayas, Toltecs, and Aztecs, existed long before the Spanish conquest. Hernan Cortes conquered Mexico during the period 1519-21 and founded a Spanish colony that lasted nearly 300 years.

Independence from Spain was proclaimed by Father Miguel Hidalgo on September 16, 1810. Father Hidalgo's declaration of national independence, known in Mexico as the "Grito de Dolores," launched a decade-long struggle for independence from Spain. Prominent figures in Mexico's war for independence were: Father Jose Maria Morelos; Gen. Augustin de Iturbide, who defeated the Spaniards and ruled as Mexican emperor from 1822-23; and Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, who went on to dominate Mexican politics from 1833 to 1855. An 1821 treaty recognized Mexican independence from Spain and called for a constitutional monarchy. The planned monarchy failed; a republic was proclaimed in December 1822 and established in 1824.

Throughout the rest of the 19th century, Mexico's government and economy were shaped by contentious debates among liberals and conservatives, republicans and monarchists, federalists and those who favored centralized government. During the two presidential terms of Benito Juarez (1858-71), Mexico experimented with modern democratic and economic reforms. President Juarez' terms of office and Mexico's early experience with democracy were interrupted by the invasion in 1863 of French forces who imposed a monarchy on the country in the form of Hapsburg archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria, who ruled as emperor. Liberal forces succeeded in overthrowing, and executing, the emperor in 1867 after which Juarez returned to office until his death in 1872. Following several weak governments, the authoritarian General Porfirio Diaz assumed office and was president during most of the period between 1877 and 1911.

Mexico's severe social and economic problems erupted in a revolution that lasted from 1910-20 and gave rise to the 1917 constitution. Prominent leaders in this period--some of whom were rivals for power--were Francisco Madero, Venustiano Carranza, Pancho Villa, Alvaro Obregon, Victoriano Huerta, and Emiliano Zapata. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), formed in 1929 under a different name, emerged from the chaos of revolution as a vehicle for keeping political competition among a coalition of interests in peaceful channels. For 71 years, Mexico's national government was controlled by the PRI, which won every presidential race and most gubernatorial races until the July 2000 presidential election of Vicente Fox Quesada of the National Action Party (PAN), in what were widely considered at the time the freest and fairest elections in Mexico's history. President Fox completed his term on December 1, 2006, when Felipe Calderon assumed the presidency

Dzidzantún / México / Government

The 1917 constitution provides for a federal republic with powers separated into independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Historically, the executive has been the dominant branch, with power vested in the president, who promulgates and executes the laws of the Congress. The Congress has played an increasingly important role since 1997, when opposition parties first made major gains. The president also legislates by executive decree in certain economic and financial fields, using powers delegated from the Congress. The president is elected by universal adult suffrage for a 6-year term and may not hold office a second time. There is no vice president; in the event of the removal or death of the president, a provisional president is elected by the Congress.

The Congress is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. Consecutive re-election is prohibited. Senators are elected to 6-year terms, and deputies serve 3-year terms. The Senate's 128 seats are filled by a mixture of direct-election and proportional representation. In the lower chamber, 300 deputies are directly elected to represent single-member districts, and 200 are selected by a modified form of proportional representation from five electoral regions. The 200 proportional representation seats were created to help smaller parties gain access to the Chamber.

The judiciary is divided into federal and state court systems, with federal courts having jurisdiction over most civil cases and those involving major felonies. Under the constitution, trial and sentencing must be completed within 12 months of arrest for crimes that would carry at least a 2-year sentence. In practice, the judicial system often does not meet this requirement. Trial is by judge, not jury. Defendants have a right to counsel, and public defenders are available. Other rights include defense against self-incrimination, the right to confront one's accusers, and the right to a public trial. Supreme Court justices are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate.

Dzidzantún / México / Principal Government Officials

Principal Government Officials
President--Felipe CALDERON Hinojosa
Foreign Secretary--Patricia ESPINOSA Cantellano
Ambassador to the U.S.--Arturo SARUKHAN Casamitjana
Ambassador to the United Nations--Claude HELLER Rouassant
Ambassador to the OAS--Gustavo ALBIN Santos

Mexico maintains an embassy in the United States at 1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20006 (tel. 202-728-1600). Consular offices are located at 2827 - 16th St. NW, 20009 (tel. 202-736-1000), and the trade office is co-located at the embassy (tel. 202-728-1687, fax. 202-296-4904).

Besides its embassy, Mexico maintains 45 diplomatic offices in the United States. Mexican consulates general are located in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Antonio, San Diego, and San Francisco; consulates are (partial listing) in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis, and Tucson.

Dzidzantún / México / Political Conditions

President Felipe Calderon of the PAN was elected in 2006 in an extremely tight race, with a margin of less than one percent separating his vote total from that of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ("AMLO") of the left-of-center Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). AMLO contested the results of the election, alleging that it was marred by widespread fraud. Mexico's Federal Electoral Tribunal, while acknowledging the presence of randomly-distributed irregularities, rejected AMLO's accusation of widespread fraud and upheld Calderon's victory on September 5, 2006.

President Calderon’s National Action Party (PAN) currently is the largest party in the Senate but lost that status in the Chamber of Deputies as a result of the July 2009 elections. The PRI gained a de facto majority in those elections in which every Chamber of Deputies seat was up for vote. Although the PRI does not control the presidency or a majority in the Senate, it is a significant force in Mexican politics, holding 19 governorships and often playing a pivotal role in forming coalitions in Congress. The next national elections--for the president, all 128 seats in the Senate and all 500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies--will take place in July 2012. In 2010, 12 governorships will be up for election.

Dzidzantún / México / Reforms

One of former President Fox's (2000-2006) most important reforms was the passage and implementation of freedom of information (FOIA) laws. President Fox also highlighted the need for modernization of Mexico's criminal justice system, including the introduction of oral trials. Judicial reforms stalled at the federal level during the Fox years, but President Calderon succeeded in passing legislation to reform the federal judicial system in 2008. The reform legislation set a timetable of eight years for full implementation.

In addition to judicial reform, President Calderon has also succeeded in negotiating with Congress to pass fiscal, electoral, energy, and pension reforms. The administration is grappling with many economic challenges, including a severe GDP contraction in 2009 and the need to upgrade infrastructure, modernize labor laws, and make the energy sector more competitive. Calderon has stated that his top economic priorities remain reducing poverty and creating jobs. In the face of the serious threat posed by organized crime, the Mexican Congress passed legislation in 2009 expanding the investigative and intelligence capabilities of the country’s Federal Police. It also set a 4-year deadline for vetting all of the country’s 2,500 federal, state, and municipal police forces.

Dzidzantún / México / Economy

Mexico is highly dependent on exports to the U.S., which represent more than a quarter of the country's GDP. The result is that the Mexican economy is strongly linked to the U.S. business cycle, and has suffered from the economic slowdown in the United States. Real GDP grew by 5.1% in 2006, 3.3% in 2007, and 1.3% in 2008. Government officials expect the economy to contract by 6.8% for 2009 and rebound in 2010 with 3% growth.

Mexico's trade regime is among the most open in the world, with free trade agreements with the U.S., Canada, the EU, and many other countries (44 total). Since the 1994 devaluation of the peso, successive Mexican governments have improved the country's macroeconomic fundamentals. Inflation and public sector deficits are under control, while the current account balance and public debt profile have improved. As of December 2009, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch downgraded Mexico’s sovereign debt rating one notch, citing fiscal concerns. Nevertheless, Mexico’s sovereign debt remains investment-grade, with a stable outlook

Dzidzantún / México / Trade

The United States was the destination for about 80% of Mexico’s exports in 2008. Top Mexican exports to the U.S. include petroleum, cars, and electronic equipment. There is considerable intra-company trade. Top U.S. exports to Mexico include electronic equipment, motor vehicle parts, and chemicals. Mexico is the second-largest export market for the United States.

Mexico is an active and constructive member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the G-20, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It hosted the September 2003 WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun. The Mexican Government and many businesses support a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Concerns about trade measures and practices between the United States and Mexico are generally settled through direct negotiations between the two countries or addressed via WTO or North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) formal dispute settlement procedures. The most significant areas of friction involve agricultural products such as livestock and sweeteners as well as cross-border trucking. To address the issues that affect these industries in a manner consistent with the principles of free trade, the United States and Mexico have established technical working groups.

Dzidzantún / México / Agriculture

Only 11% of Mexico's land area is arable, of which less than 3% is irrigated. Top revenue-producing crops include corn, tomatoes, sugar cane, dry beans, and avocados. Mexico also generates significant revenue from the production of beef, poultry, pork, and dairy products. In total, agriculture accounted for 3% of GDP in 2008, yet agricultural employment accounted for over 15% of total employment. Most of the population is employed in the services sector (60% of total employment).

Implementation of NAFTA has opened Mexico's agricultural sector to the forces of globalization and competition, and some farmers have greatly benefited from greater market access. In particular, fruit and vegetable exports from Mexico have increased dramatically in recent years, exceeding $4.7 billion to the United States alone in 2009. However, structural inefficiencies that have existed for decades continue to limit improvements in productivity and living standards for many in the agricultural sector. These inefficiencies include a prevalence of small-scale producers, a lack of infrastructure, inadequate supplies of credit, a communal land structure for many producers, and a large subsistence rural population that is not part of the formal economy. It is estimated that half of Mexico's producers are subsistence farmers and over 60% produce corn or beans, with the majority of these farmers cultivating five hectares or less, although the number of Mexican farmers is steadily decreasing as they seek greater economic opportunities from off-farm employment.

Mexico subsidizes agricultural production through various support programs, the most notable being the PROCAMPO initiative. The producer support estimate for Mexico is 13% of gross receipts, compared to 10% for the United States.

Dzidzantún / México / Manufacturing and Foreign Investment

Manufacturing and Foreign Investment
The manufacturing sector, which accounts for about 18% of GDP, dropped by 0.4% in real terms in 2008. Construction dropped by 0.6% in real terms in 2008.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Mexico for 2008 was $ 22.5 billion, down 18.5% from the previous year. The U.S. was once again the largest foreign investor in Mexico, accounting for 40% ($9.1 billion FDI from the U.S.) of reported FDI. The economic slowdown in the U.S. in 2008 and 2009 has caused a significant decline in this figure. The Mexican Government estimate of FDI for 2009 is $12 billion to $13 billion.

Dzidzantún / México / Oil and Gas

Oil and Gas
In 2008, Mexico was the world's seventh-largest crude exporter, and the third-largest supplier of oil to the U.S. Oil and gas revenues provided more than one-third of all Mexican Government revenues.

Mexico's state-owned oil company, Pemex, holds a constitutionally established monopoly for the exploration, production, transportation, and marketing of the nation's oil. With its primary known oil reserves already in serious decline, Mexico still must determine in the near future how it wants to exploit probable deepwater reserves in order to avoid very difficult economic choices. The Mexican Congress passed energy reform legislation in October 2008 that gives Pemex more budgetary autonomy and transparency. However, the reforms do not open the petroleum sector to private sector investment. Mexico also imports finished petroleum products such as gasoline, due to a lack of refinery capacity. In 2009, the government decided to build a new refinery, the first in 30 years, in the state of Hidalgo.

While private investment in natural gas transportation, distribution, and storage is permitted, Pemex remains in sole control of natural gas exploration and production. Despite substantial reserves, Mexico is a net natural gas importer.

Dzidzantún / México / Transportation and Communications

Transportation and Communications
Mexico's land transportation network is one of the most extensive in Latin America with 357,000 kilometers (221,739 mi.) of paved roads, including more than 11,000 kilometers of four-lane paved roads. The 26,622 kilometers (16,268 mi.) of government-owned railroads in Mexico have been privatized through the sale of 50-year operating concessions.

Mexico's ports have experienced a boom in investment and traffic following a 1993 law that privatized the port system. Mexico's ports moved 3.3 million 20-foot container equivalent units in 2008. Several dozen international airlines serve Mexico, with direct or connecting flights from most major cities in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Latin America. Most Mexican regional capitals and resorts have direct air services to Mexico City or the United States. In 2005, the Government of Mexico agreed to sell Mexicana, one of the two main national airlines, to a private investor, and did the same with Aeromexico in 2007. Airports are semi-privatized with the government still the majority shareholder, but with each regional airport group maintaining operational autonomy.

The telecommunications sector is dominated by Telmex, the former state-owned monopoly. Several international companies compete in the sector with limited success. The fixed line teledensity rate in Mexico (19%) is below average in Latin America. Wireless penetration is much higher (73%), with 78.5 million wireless subscribers in the third quarter of 2009, although 88% of these customers use prepaid cards, and many use their phones to receive calls only. Internet penetration extended to 24.8% of the population as of 2008. Mexico's satellite service sector was opened to competition, including limited foreign direct investment, in 2001.

Dzidzantún / México / National Security

Mexico's armed forces number about 225,000. The air force is a semiautonomous organization that reports to the head of the army, and together the army and air force make up about three-fourths of that total. The navy is a completely autonomous cabinet agency, and there is no joint chief of staff position. Principal military roles include national defense, narcotics control, and civic action assignments such as search and rescue and disaster relief. Mexico’s federal, state, and municipal police forces number approximately 500,000, including analysts and investigators. At the state and local level, police are generally divided into "preventive" and "judicial" police. Preventive police maintain order and public security and generally do not investigate crimes. As noted previously, the Mexican Congress passed legislation in 2009 expanding the investigative and intelligence capabilities of the Federal Police, which itself has expanded from 20,000 personnel to approximately 32,000 over the last 18 months.

President Calderon has made combating organized crime a priority of his administration and, to that end, has deployed the Mexican military to 10 Mexican states to assist (or replace) the weak and vulnerable local and state police. Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have responded to increased pressure on their activities with unprecedented levels of violence directed at both the government’s security forces and each other. Narcotics-related violence took the lives of over 8,000 individuals in 2009, with over half killed in states along the U.S. border; of this total over 400 members of Mexico’s security forces were killed. The Mexican military has demonstrated a willingness to carry out aggressive operations against the DTOs as evidenced by its December 2009 operation against one of Mexico’s most notorious drug leaders, Arturo Beltran Leyva, who died in the ensuing gun battle. As the military has stepped up its engagement in law enforcement activities, allegations of human rights abuses against the military have also increased.

Mexico’s efforts to reform its judicial sector and professionalize its police forces reflect its commitment to promote the rule of law and build strong law enforcement institutions to counter the threat posed by organized crime. The U.S. assists Mexico in this effort through the Merida Initiative, which directly supports programs to help Mexico train its police forces in modern investigative techniques, promote a culture of lawfulness, and implement key justice reform. Elements of the reconstituted police force will begin to replace the military in strategic locations in early 2010.

Dzidzantún / U.S. - Mexican Foreign Relations

Traditionally, Mexico has sought to maintain its interests abroad and project its influence largely through moral persuasion and has championed the principles of nonintervention and self-determination. In its efforts to revitalize its economy and open up to international competition, Mexico has sought closer relations with the U.S., Western Europe, and the Pacific Basin. Presidents Fox and Calderon have more actively promoted international human rights and democracy and sought to increase Mexico's participation in international affairs.

Mexico is a strong supporter of the United Nations and Organization of American States systems. While selective in its membership in other international organizations, it pursues its interests through a number of ad hoc international bodies. Mexico is the Secretary Pro Tempore of the Rio Group for the term 2008-2010; separately, it was elected to a seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2009-2010. In 2010, it will host the 16th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Whereas Mexico declined to become a member of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, it, nevertheless, seeks to diversify its diplomatic and economic relations, as demonstrated by its accession to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1986; its joining the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) in 1993; its becoming, in April 1994, the first Latin American member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); and its entering the World Trade Organization as a founding member in 1996. Mexico attended the 1994 Summit of the Americas, held in Miami; managed coordination of the agenda item on education for the 1998 Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile; hosted a Special Summit of the Americas in early 2004; participated actively in the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, has emerged as a key middle income player in the G-20, and hosted an H1N1 conference in Cancun in 2009. Mexico hosted the September 2003 WTO Ministerial in Cancun and a Hemispheric Security Conference in October of the same year. It was elected to the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors in 2003. In 2002 it hosted the APEC Leaders' Meeting in Cabo San Lucas.

Dzidzantún / U.S. - Mexican Relations

U.S. relations with Mexico are as important and complex as with any country in the world. U.S. relations with Mexico have a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans--whether the issue is trade and economic reform, homeland security, drug control, migration, or the environment. The U.S. and Mexico are partners in NAFTA, and enjoy a broad and expanding trade relationship. Since the first North American Leaders’ Summit in 2005, the United States, Canada, and Mexico have been cooperating more closely on a trilateral basis to improve North American competitiveness, ensure the safety of our citizens, and promote clean energy and a healthy environment. The three nations also cooperate on hemispheric and global challenges, such as managing transborder infectious diseases and seeking greater integration to respond to challenges of transnational organized crime.

The scope of U.S.-Mexican relations goes far beyond diplomatic and official contacts; it entails extensive commercial, cultural, and educational ties, as demonstrated by the annual figure of about a million legal border crossings a day. In addition, a million American citizens live in Mexico. More than 18,000 companies with U.S. investment have operations there, and the U.S. accounts for 40% of all foreign direct investment in Mexico. Along the 2,000-mile shared border, state and local governments interact closely.

There has been frequent contact at the highest levels. Presidents' meetings have included a visit by President Calderon to Washington, DC to meet with then President-elect Barack Obama in January 2009, a visit by President Obama to Guadalajara in August 2009 for the North American Leaders’ Summit, and a visit by President Calderon to Pittsburg in September 2009 for a G-20 Summit.

A strong partnership with Mexico is critical to combating terrorism and controlling the flow of illicit drugs into the United States. In recent years, cooperation on counter-narcotics and Mexico's own initiatives in fighting drug trafficking have been unprecedented. At the August 2007 North American Leaders' Summit in Montebello, Canada, Presidents George W. Bush and Calderon announced the Merida Initiative to work together and with the countries of Central America to combat drug trafficking and organized crime in the region. In June 2008, President Bush signed the congressional appropriations bill allocating assistance to Mexico as part of the Merida Initiative. Appropriated funds for Mexico under the initiative totaled $1.35 billion as of December 2009.

Dzidzantún / U.S. - México / Border, Environmental and Telecom Affairs

Border, Environmental, and Telecom Affairs
Cooperation between the United States and Mexico along the 2,000-mile common border includes state and local problem-solving mechanisms; transportation planning; and institutions to address resource, environment, and health issues. In 1993, the Border Liaison Mechanism (BLM) was established. Chaired by U.S. and Mexican consuls, the BLMs operate in "sister city" pairs and have proven to be effective means of dealing with a variety of local issues ranging from accidental violation of sovereignty by law enforcement officials and charges of mistreatment of foreign nationals to coordination of port security and cooperation in public health matters such as tuberculosis.

With nearly one million people and one billion dollars worth of commerce crossing the U.S.-Mexico border each day, coordination of border infrastructure operations and development among federal, state, and local partners on both sides of the border is critical. The multi-agency U.S.-Mexico Binational Group on Bridges and Border Crossings meets twice yearly to improve the efficiency of existing crossings and coordinate planning for new ones. The 10 U.S. and Mexican border states are active participants in these meetings.

The United States and Mexico have a history of cooperation on environmental and natural resource issues, particularly in the border area, where there are serious environmental problems caused by rapid population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. Cooperative activities between the U.S. and Mexico take place under a number of agreements such as:

•An 1889 convention establishing the International Boundary Commission, reconstituted by the Water Treaty of 1944 as the International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico (IBWC). The IBWC has settled many difficult U.S.-Mexico boundary and water problems, including the regularization of the Rio Grande near El Paso through the 1967 Chamizal settlement. The IBWC determines and accounts for national ownership of international waters, builds and operates water conservation and flood control projects, and constructs and maintains boundary markers on the land boundary and on international bridges. In recent years, the IBWC has worked to resolve longstanding border sanitation problems, to monitor the quantity and quality of border waters, and to address water delivery and sedimentation problems of the Colorado River.
•The 1983 La Paz Agreement to protect and improve the border environment and Border 2012, a 10-year, binational, results-oriented environmental program for the U.S.-Mexico border region. The Border 2012 Program is the latest multi-year, binational planning effort to be implemented under the La Paz Agreement and succeeds Border XXI, a five-year program that ended in 2000.
•A November 1993 agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, establishing the North American Development Bank (NADBank) and the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) under the auspices of NAFTA, in order to address border environmental problems. The NADBank uses capital and grant funds contributed by Mexico and the U.S. to help finance border environmental infrastructure projects certified by the BECC. The BECC works with local communities to develop and certify environmental infrastructure projects, such as wastewater treatment plants, drinking water systems, and solid waste disposal facilities. Prior to 2005, both institutions had separate Boards of Directors. In an effort to improve efficiency, the separate Boards were merged into a single entity, which held its first meeting in June 2006.
•The 1993 North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), creating the North American Commission on Environmental Cooperation under NAFTA by the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, to improve enforcement of environmental laws and to address common environmental concerns.
•A series of agreements on border health (since 1942), wildlife and migratory birds (since 1936), national parks, forests, marine and atmospheric resources. In July 2000, the U.S. and Mexico signed an agreement to establish a binational Border Health Commission. The Border Health Commission meets annually and is made up of the federal secretaries of health, the 10 border states' chief health officers, and prominent community health professionals from both countries. A representative from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services manages the U.S. Section in El Paso, Texas.
The United States and Mexico have also cooperated on telecommunications services in the border area for more than 50 years. Currently, there are 39 bilateral agreements that govern shared use of the radio spectrum. When the United States completed the transition to digital television in 2009, a high percentage of Mexican border cities did the same well ahead of Mexico’s deadline to complete the transition by 2021. Recent border agreements also cover mobile broadband services such as BlackBerrys, smartphones and similar devices. The High Level Consultative Commission on Telecommunications continues to serve as the primary bilateral arena for both governments to promote growth in the sector and to ensure compatible services in the border area. Under this mechanism, the United States and Mexico signed an agreement to improve cross-border public security communications in the border area in 2009.