On Wednesday evening, the USC Political Student Assembly hosted a panel discussing the current state of U.S.-Mexico relations.
The discussion featured Carlos M. Sada, the consul general of Mexico in Los Angeles as well as Stephen Cheung, director of international trade for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Two USC professors also participated in the event, moderator Carol Wise of the School of International Relations and Dr. Pamela K. Starr, director of the U.S.-Mexico Network at USC.
Sada began the discussion with a presentation of the economic relationship between Mexico and the U.S. He stated that despite a sometimes tenuous relationship, Mexico’s connection with the United States has improved.
“I think now there is a very good spirit of cooperation and collaboration and willingness to understand each other much better,” Sada said.
He also cautioned, however, that many issues continue to exist between the two countries.
“We have been partners — mainly with a very solid partnership — as of 1994 when NAFTA was signed,” Sada said. “We have a very unique and strategic relationship that is sometimes not well understood.”
NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was signed in 1994 and created the world’s largest free trade area between Mexico, the United States and Canada.
“We Mexicans and Americans are not informed about each other,” Sada said. “We need to do much, much better.”
One issue he highlighted was the lack of foreign students from Mexico. He stated that although about 750,000 foreign students study in the United States every year, only 14,000 are from Mexico.
“That is why we are invigorating the academic relationship between the United States and Mexico,” he said.
Starr also spoke of the importance of Mexico to the United States.
“No country has a greater impact on the daily lives of Americans than Mexico,” Starr said. “Mexico matters to jobs, to wages, to public health, to environmental protection, to energy security, as well as to the demographic construction of the United States.”
Cheung stated that Garcetti’s office was looking forward to broadening trade relations with Mexico.
“Between Mexico City and Los Angeles alone, according to the Brookings Institution, in 2012 there was $2 billion of trade between just those two cities,” he said.
Students at the event were interested in the consul’s presentation.
Kayla Caldwell, a sophomore majoring in international relations and economics, said she learned new information about USC’s outreach in Mexico.
“I came because it’s always a good opportunity to hear a consul speak,” Caldwell said. “I’ve never been to Mexico so I don’t know much about the region, but one thing I learned that was interesting was that there are so many engineering students from Mexico at USC in the program.”
Priya Gupta, a senior majoring in international relations (global business), also found the trade aspect of the discussion interesting.
“I thought it was a really great presentation — learning about the developing relationship that the consul and the mayor’s office are trying to establish between Mexico City and Los Angeles,” Gupta said.