The US and Mexico has concluded a bilateral agreement that would enable the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) to offer all its programmes and services in Mexico, America’s second-largest trading partner. The agreement must be ratified by the Mexican Chamber of Senators to become effective.

Opic has been able to support only US small businesses investing in Mexico since early 2001.

Initially, Opic intends to focus on projects in the education, municipal infrastructure and environmental sectors in Mexico . Additional opportunities will be explored in the housing and water infrastructure sectors. The agreement will also enable OPIC to work with its sister agencies, the US Trade and Development Agency (TDA)and US Ex-Im Bank, to provide investment support in Mexico .

“Conclusion of this bilateral agreement between the United States and Mexico represents not only the fulfilment of several principal goals of the Partnership for Prosperity, but the culmination of years of Opic efforts to strengthen our own ties to support economic development in Mexico, America’s second-largest trading partner,” says Watson. “The result, I am confident, will help to further unleash the entrepreneurial capacity of Mexican businesses, and consequently bring important developmental benefits to the Mexican people.”

Watson added that significant demand for Opic support since its US small business program opened in 2001 “suggests that we can increase our support for Mexico several-fold once all of Opic’s products are activated, involving both US and Mexican companies in new levels of economic growth.”

President Bush and President Fox of Mexico established the Partnership for Prosperity in 2001 as a public-private alliance to spur private-sector economic growth throughout Mexico . The partnership draws on the best ideas of US and Mexican economists, businesspeople, development experts, and policymakers to promote US direct investment in Mexico , with special emphasis on small and medium-sized businesses.

Opic was established as an agency of the US government in 1971. It helps US businesses invest overseas, fosters economic development in new and emerging markets, complements the private sector in managing risks associated with foreign direct investment, and supports US foreign policy. Because Opic charges market-based fees for its products, it operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to taxpayers.

Opic’s political risk insurance and financing help US businesses of all sizes invest in more than 150 emerging markets and developing nations worldwide. Over the agency’s 32-year history, Opic has supported US$145bn-worth of investments that have helped developing countries to generate over US$11bn in host-government revenues and create over 680,000 host-country jobs. Opic projects have also generated US$65bn in US exports and created more than 254,000 American jobs.