On May 19th, the U.S. - Mexico Foundation held a workshop that brought together relevant actors in the binational digital ecosystem. The name of the workshop, C26+, makes reference to Chapter 26 of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). According to Chapter 26, a North American Competitiveness Committee should be established within the first year of the ratification of the agreement. This Committee is meant to discuss and develop cooperative activities in support of a strong economic environment that incentivizes production in North America, facilitates regional trade and investment, enhances a predictable and transparent regulatory environment, encourages the swift movement of goods and the provision of services throughout the region, and responds to market developments and emerging technologies. One year after the USMCA entered into force, the program for the creation of the Committee is yet to be drafted and presented. The C26+ workshop, by the U.S. - Mexico Foundation, seeks to underscore the importance of developing the Committee, which is promoting greater economic integration between the three countries and enhancing the competitiveness of North American exports.
As part of the seminary, three themes were discussed. The first one was competitiveness in a digital economy. Modernizing and strengthening the digital economy infrastructure is crucial for post-pandemic economic recovery. The pandemic presented an opportunity to accelerate economic digitalization by leveling the playing field, but first, there are necessary changes in regulation that need to be made. Mexico is made up of several Mexicos due to its digital divide, and although bigger firms may be ready for digitalization, most part of Mexico is not. There is a need for a clear regulatory framework that addresses the challenges for the digitalization of the Mexican economy, such as unequal access to technology, unequal financial inclusion, and the need to be more in touch with global trends and regulations to not be left behind in the global digital economy, among others.
The second theme was innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology in the new normal. Now is the right time for entrepreneurs in Mexico because there is a necessity, capital, ideas, and skills. The main challenges are how to retain businesses in Mexico and how to help them expand. One way to make that happen is for entrepreneurs and funding managers to work together to attract investment into Mexico. It is also important to improve the rule of law in Mexico, to give investors certainty. Other key actions would be the creation of a dialogue mechanism for entrepreneurs, getting rid of red tape through the establishment of a body outside of Mexico, and attracting migration to Mexico in order to broaden the skills portfolio.
The third theme was how to transfer from Ports Of Entry (POE) to Smart Borders. A Smart Border means data that is easy to flow across borders, and that is useful and actionable, in other words, no more bottlenecks. Smart Borders need to be managed as a system with key performance indicators, inventories, dashboards, and frameworks. For this to be possible, there must be collaboration and coordination of central ideas and frameworks, and prioritization of projects. Ideally, Smart Borders will allow for a humanless process where there is security, tax collection, and control. Data sharing is an essential part of Smart Borders. Frameworks around the process of data sharing and their operability must be established. This framework could be created through private and public partnerships. There is a need to get Mexico City and D.C. more engaged in the border. Local infrastructure projects that alleviate the situation at the border are a good way to achieve this.