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  • Center for Binational Institutions

CBI First Annual Report

The Coppel - Intuit Center for Binational Institutions has issued its First Annual Report on the U.S. - Mexico Binational Institutions. This report aims to serve as a yearly analysis of the bilateral relationship through an institutional lens that focuses on four types of institutions: agreements, dialogue mechanisms, organizations and programs. Completing the CBI’s mission, promoting a better understanding of the bilateral institutions, is a multi-year effort. As such, this first edition of the report should be seen as a point of departure for future analysis, and as an effort to capture what has occurred during 2021 in terms of binational institutions.

As a part of the launching of the report, the CBI hosted a virtual presentation and roundtable event where CBI Program Lead, Cristina Martínez; CIDE Research Professor, Jorge Schiavon; and CSIS Senior Fellow, Ryan Berg, PhD, provided their analyses on the bilateral institutional relationship during 2021, and a possible panorama for 2022. The speakers and the moderator, CBI Senior Fellow, Gerónimo Gutiérrez, agreed that the binational institutions are important and that they work; and that 2021 was a year of reinvigoration of the binational institutions.

Cristina Martínez explained that the CBI Report is an attempt to analyze key events that took place during 2021 and that set the tone for the relationship between Mexico and the U.S. She highlighted the launching of key mechanisms and the restructuring of existing institutions like the High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED), the U.S.-Mexico Bicentennial Framework for Security and the North American Leaders Summit (NALS). She also mentioned the need for clearer pathways on how to translate these mechanisms into actions and then those actions into results.

Dr. Schiavon spoke on the intermestic nature of the U.S. - Mexico relationship, in other words, how whatever happens in the domestic politics of one country has a direct impact on the relationship; which is an extremely complex one in every issue of the agenda. Furthermore, institutions are incredibly relevant for they benefit both countries, especially the least powerful; give predictability, certainty, efficiency and effectiveness; and help identify, attend and propose solutions for the multiple issue areas and topics.

Dr. Berg agreed that 2021 was a year of re-institutionalization of the bilateral relationship and that 2022 and beyond will most likely be about the follow up. He argued that putting in place bilateral mechanisms makes leader to leader confrontation less likely, which brings down the tenure of the debate. They also make the relationship less about presidents and more about dialogue between officials who are less inclined to be politically posturing and have more incentives to move a policy forward. He also went into depth about security cooperation through the Bicentennial Framework that replaced the Merida Initiative. The Framework reshuffles the agreements between both nations about a greater need to focus on the communities and less on security hardware and drug traffickers prosecution.

The conversation also included the topics of subnational and commercial diplomacy. Cristina pointed out the innovations that have taken place regarding security and borders. Dr. Schiavon highlighted the importance of surpassing the idea of relationships government to government and to include other actors. And Dr. Berg mentioned that it is crucial to track what happens at the regional and state to state level, which happens regardless of tension among leaders at the federal level. The final topic was the importance of presidential meetings for the binational relationship. All of them agreed that even though presidents tend to drive the agenda and are a big part of keeping the relationship on track, a more institutionalized bilateral relationship is less subject to the capriciousness of a particular political figure. Despite tensions during the past five years, there was a lot of work going on at the institutional level.

The event concluded with some words from Coppel Group Director of Institutional Relations, Gaston Luken, and Intuit International Public Policy and Corporate Affairs, Rodney MacDonald. Both called attention to the role that the private sector plays in bettering the binational relationship by providing input and ideas, and generating added value that can be translated into public policy.

2021 confirmed the importance of bilateral institutions, and the CBI recognizes that there is still a lot of work to get done. One of the CBI’s main focuses of the year will be to help track the follow up of key mechanisms, and to go deeper in the analysis at the subnational level. If you are interested in watching the recording of the presentation and roundtable event, and to download the report, visit our website at

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