Legislation promotes economic partnership with a focus in training cross-border energy professionals, doctors and nurses
WASHINGTON— Last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee marked up and passed a bill introduced by Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28), H.R. 1567 – the United States-Mexico Economic Partnership Act. Seeking to bolster professional development and economic growth in both countries, including in the border region in Texas, the legislation promotes economic partnership and cooperation between the United States and Mexico, with a focus in the energy, health, entrepreneurship, and education sectors. The committee reported the bill favorably; the next step is a vote in the full House of Representatives.
The relationship between the United States and Mexico runs deep through commercial, cultural, and educational partnerships. Mexico is one of United States’ top three trading partners, with an estimated $615 billion in two-way trade between the two countries in 2017. According to the Institute of International Education, in the 2015-2016 academic year, more than 56,000 U.S. students studied in other countries in the Western Hemisphere while more than 84,000 non-U.S. students from the region studied in the U.S., but only 5,000 of those United States students studied in Mexico and only 16,000 of those non-U.S. students were from Mexico.
Laredo, in Congressman Cuellar’s district, is home to the largest inland port in the United States, conducting over 60 percent of all U.S.-Mexico trade. His area also includes more than a dozen Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), including Laredo College, South Texas College, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, University of Texas at San Antonio, University of the Incarnate Word, and Texas A&M International University. This bill will increase educational exchange programs in the 28th district that will have a direct impact on facilitating the flow of commerce while increasing job opportunities for underserved communities and small businesses. This language will specifically increase economic prosperity, allowing both the United States and Mexico to further capitalize on the strengths each country has to offer.
The bill has a few parts:
- Language which establishes that both countries have benefited from bilateral, mutually beneficial partnerships focused on advancing the economic interests of both countries
- A statement of policy provision that would make it the policy of the United States to continue to deepen economic cooperation between the two countries and expand professional and educational exchange programs
- A strategy to prioritize and expand educational and professional exchange programs with Mexico that includes academic exchanges; partnerships between United States and Mexican academic institutions and businesses; vocational-level education, internships, and exchanges to promote energy infrastructure coordination; and medical school and nursing program partnerships between the two countries.
- A requirement that the Secretary of State submit a report to Congress on its efforts to establish and implement this strategy
Congressman Henry Cuellar said, “Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market and third-largest trading partner; the relationship between our two countries runs deep and bridges commercial, cultural, and educational divides. This is why I introduced the United States-Mexico Economic Partnership Act. Increasing academic exchanges in the energy, business, education, and health sectors will increase economic prosperity in both nations and allow us to further capitalize on the strengths each country has to offer. I thank House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and Ranking Member Elliot Engel for taking up this bill and advancing it through committee. I look forward to seeing the bill through to passage.”