In today's world, where globalization is a common trend for all nations, Mexico is actively working with the United States to foster sustained economic development by investing in human capital and promoting research and innovation. In this 20th anniversary year of NAFTA, both countries are moving forward, and increased trade and exchanges of people and commerce have created integrated value chains that brought annual trade between Mexico and the U.S. to about $500 billion last year. Meanwhile, to reach our goal of strengthening the competitiveness of the North American region, we have decided to expand cooperation in other sectors, particularly in higher education, so that flows of knowledge can contribute to a new regional partnership and close gaps in cultural integration, training and employment.
Mexico's foreign policy has always been committed to international cooperation to achieve peace and prosperity among nations. In the same spirit, cooperation through academic mobility and exchange programs has the potential to expose young people, researchers and scholars from both countries to new ideas and open discussion, and generate new knowledge on topics of common interest. These are the objectives of the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation and Research (FOBESII in Spanish) that Presidents Barack Obama and Enrique Pena Nieto established in May 2013 to develop a 21st century workforce that will build the foundation of our mutual economic prosperity. On that occasion, both presidents reaffirmed their belief that greater educational opportunities would advance shared goals in all areas of the already rich partnership between Mexico and the United States.
With FOBESII in mind, the Mexican Consulate in Boise embraced the project of linking Idaho State University with the Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez (UACJ). After several months of consultations, today (July 11) both institutions will sign a cooperation agreement to promote academic and educational exchanges. This agreement will allow for exchanges of undergraduate, graduate and/or professional students, faculty and/or staff, academic materials, research activities and publications, seminars and academic meetings as well as short term academic programs.
For the signing ceremony of this agreement, ISU President Arthur Vailas and Provost Laura Woodworth Nye will host a high level delegation from UACJ that will include the university president, the secretary general, the director of the biomedical sciences institute and the deputy director of cooperation and internationalization. Also, a high level officer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is an expert in FOBESII and U.S.-Mexico relations, will travel here from Mexico City.
UACJ, one of the most prestigious universities in northern Mexico, located in the state of Chihuahua, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, will offer 25 scholarships for medical school students from ISU who will travel to Ciudad Juarez to study community medicine. In exchange, ISU is offering scholarships to students and scholars from UACJ to improve their English language skills and benefit from other programs devoted to foreign students.
Mexico and the United States have a tradition of educational cooperation and exchanges. Now, through the new platform offered by FOBESII, the two countries have inaugurated a new era of collaboration.
The signing of the cooperation agreement between ISU and UACJ confirms the strong and fruitful association that exists between higher education institutions, civil societies and the private sectors of Mexico and the United States. At the same time, it offers a good example of the depth of our bilateral relationship and the richness of the exchanges between our two nations.
Moreover, local engagement is often the best way for countries that are neighbors, partners and trustworthy friends to achieve progress. That is why the ISU-UACJ cooperation agreement is a positive signal of the good faith and growing bonds between Mexico and the beautiful state of Idaho.
Guillermo Ordorica is consul of Mexico in Boise.