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Agreement for U.S.-Mexican Regional Development Cooperation Announced

Dec. 19, 2018 (EIRNS)—

“The United States and Mexico today commit to strengthen and expand our bilateral cooperation to foster development and increase investment in southern Mexico and in Central America to create a zone of prosperity. Both countries recognize the strong links between promoting development and economic growth in southern Mexico and the success of promoting prosperity, good governance, and security in Central America,”

the State Department wrote on the agreement announced simultaneously in Washington and Mexico City yesterday.

The Trump and López Obrador administrations have agreed to hold a U.S.-Mexico cabinet-level meeting in late January “to agree on a strategic framework” for U.S. cooperation with Mexico in Central America; to establish a U.S.-Mexico high-level taskforce to facilitate the design and implementation of projects in the area, and monitor progress on their implementation; and to convoke a Bilateral Business Summit in the first quarter of 2019, where “a broad range of U.S., Mexican, and international private sector representatives” will participate in discussing how to increase investment and business opportunities in Mexico, “with a special focus on southern Mexico and the Northern Triangle” countries of Central America, the State Department reported.

Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador welcomed the agreement as a way to address the causes of migration, by creating jobs. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard termed the agreement “very good news for Mexico.”

Between existing U.S. funding and commitments to leverage another $4.7 billion in new monies from the United States, the total discussed is $10.5 billion for investment for southern Mexico and the three Central American nations most wrecked by the drug cartels, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where most migrants come from. The new money is primarily to come from the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC), in order to “leverage public and private investment” in the area.

The southern Mexican component of the package is more developed than the Central American side, given that President López Obrador has drawn up plans for several development projects in the south. According to the joint statement, “OPIC is prepared to invest and mobilize $2 billion in additional funds for projects in southern Mexico that are viable and attract private sector investment,” in addition to the $2.8 billion in projects for Mexico already in OPIC’s investment pipeline.

The Central American side is more up in the air. Here, the joint statement writes that “OPIC could invest and mobilize up to $2.5 billion more” than current U.S. funding for these three countries, “if commercially viable projects are identified.” Like current U.S. funding, however, the State Department emphasized that U.S. programs include a focus on “anti-corruption,” “institutional reform,” “fiscal management,” etc., programs famously used for regime-change in the region.

However, as Foreign Minister Ebrard tweeted today, the Central American countries will decide on their own projects to receive support, and “another stage has begun of international support for them for development.”

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