For Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the past three days will almost certainly end up being among the most significant in his first year in office.
Abbott spent those days in Mexico on a mission that, for the first time in a long while, partly took the spotlight away from the harsh border security issues that have so dominated the Texas-Mexico news and focused it instead on nurturing the crucial trade relationships that bind us together.
In a Sunday commentary published in the Houston Chronicle, Abbott noted that Mexico is the state’s top trade partner by far.
“In 2014, Texas exported more than $100 billion in machinery, technology and other commodities to Mexico, about 35 percent of the state's total exports,” Abbott wrote. “These exports sustain tens of thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses in Texas and more than 1.1 million jobs. We also imported more than $90 billion of goods from our southern neighbor last year.”
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That’s more than ample reason for the governor to devote considerable time and energy visiting with top Mexican officials, making sure trade has every opportunity to thrive and grow.
Sadly, it’s been more than eight years since a Texas governor made the trip.
Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos said Monday during Abbott’s luncheon with about 200 business and political leaders in Mexico City that the lapse in visits “will never happen again,” The Dallas Morning News reported.
The governor’s visit began Sunday with a luncheon hosted by Mexico Secretary of Foreign Affairs Claudia Ruiz Massieu Salinas, included visits with Mexican security, defense, transportation and energy officials and wrapped up Tuesday with a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
For sure, Abbott did not let border security slip too far into the background, mentioning it often in official releases and press gatherings.
But for his first international trip as governor, he could do no better than to bring trade with Mexico to the forefront.
If the rest of his time in office is marked by similar face-to-face visits on both sides of the border, so much the better.