Meet our Senior Fellow and Faculty Advisory Board Member, Raymond Robertson, Director of the Mosbacher Institute at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, and learn more about his work and research.
You are the Director of the Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy at Texas A&M. Can you tell us more about the Institute and your role?
The Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy was founded in October 2009 upon the request of President George H.W. Bush to honor Robert A. Mosbacher Sr., who served as secretary of commerce from 1989 to 1992. The Mosbacher Institute houses the new Global Value Chains Program that combines policy, economics, logistics, and supply chain management approaches to emerging issues of today’s global value chains, and the new Borders and Migration Lab that brings together scholars across several disciplines to conduct original research on topics related to borders and migration. The Institute publishes policy briefs (The Takeaway), conducts original and sponsored research, and supports students through graduate education, programming, and internships. My role as Director is to help set the agenda and make connections with relevant partners and stakeholders.
What first interested you in studying economics?
I have always heard the noble calling of public service, but I was not sure of the best path to follow. I considered law school, political science, or other routes but did not know which would have the most significant impact on policy. Right after graduating from Trinity University in San Antonio with a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics, I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to spend a year in Mexico studying NAFTA – even though NAFTA had not yet been signed! While I was in Mexico City, I realized that the President of Mexico and many cabinet members were economists. I thought then that with the rise of globalization, economists would be increasingly influential in public policy, so I decided to get a PhD in economics.
A lot of your work focuses on global value chains. Do you think the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) brings opportunities for the U.S. and Mexico for improving U.S. and Mexico’s integrated supply chains?
Having a trade agreement between the United States and Mexico (and Canada) is critical to improving U.S. and Mexico’s integrated supply chains. The reduction in tariffs and harmonization of rules and standards help promote investment and economic growth. Other factors are also at play that should help strengthen the Texas-Mexico relationship, including the disruption in international supply chains, the rising concerns about sustainability in value chains, and the ongoing trade frictions with China. Having the USMCA in place should help bring production back to the Americas from China and East Asia.
You are currently working on research that explores reshoring from China to Mexico. Can you share with us what you hope the findings might tell us about the Texas-Mexico economy?
The close economic relationship between Texas and Mexico creates the opportunity for Texas and Mexico to provide economic leadership for other Latin American countries – especially in Central America. The success of Texas-Mexico economic integration provides a model for integration farther South. Expanding the Texas-Mexico integration model into Central America might help address migration from Central America that continues to put pressure on the Texas-Mexico border region. The key is finding which industries might be the best candidates for Texas and Mexico to support in Central America, which is what our research is trying to do.
From a policy standpoint, how do you think the work the Texas-Mexico Center does can contribute to the Texas-Mexico relationship?
The trifecta of U.S.-Chinese trade frictions, the Covid-19 pandemic-related supply chain disruptions, and rising concerns about sustainability in global supply chains create a unique opportunity to highlight the success that Texas and Mexico have had in economic integration. No one else has been able to highlight the unique Texas-Mexico relationship like the Texas-Mexico Center. Now is a great time to draw upon the excellent work of the Center to provide a new way forward for North and Central America.