Interview: Omar Fayad Meneses
What competitive advantages have consolidated Hidalgo as one of Mexico’s fastest-growing investment destinations?
OMAR FAYAD: First of all, the government has conducted a series of regulatory reforms that have fully transformed the state’s business environment. We have put into place a one-stop-shop system that allows companies direct access to information, reduces bureaucracy and speeds up paperwork. Our security framework was reinforced with over 5000 video surveillance cameras that will be connected through a fibre-optic network to one of Latin America’s most sophisticated command centres. In fact, Hidalgo is currently among the top-five safest states in Mexico.
The state’s economy is diverse, with a strong focus on certain priority areas, such as energy, agro-industry and pharmaceuticals. Due to Hidalgo’s strategic position, there are many opportunities for companies and investors focused on the oil and energy industries. We have a refinery, and many of Mexico’s most important oil pipelines cross through our state. In addition to this, the state is taking the necessary steps to become a national leader in renewable energy; in June 2019 Atlas Renewable Energy inaugurated its $120m Guajiro solar power plant, which features 370,000 panels and a generation capacity that could provide clean energy to more than 120,000 households annually.
In the agro-industry, we have also created the right conditions for large-scale projects to develop and add value to their companies. Grupo Modelo’s biggest brewery, located in Apan and estimated at around $750m, took less than a year from the conception of the project to start operations. This not only represents the effectiveness of the one-stopshop system but it also demonstrated the viability of massive-scale projects in Hidalgo, proving that the state has the capacity, the resources and the diligence to realise big international investments.
To what extent have regulatory reforms been recognised by external and independent parties?
FAYAD: Different organisations have outlined how relevant our regulatory improvements have become to the state’s attractiveness to investors and its socio-economic development. Specifically, the Law for the Promotion of Economic Development and the Law of Productive Alliances for Investment have enabled us to facilitate the establishment of new businesses, strengthening economic activity and improving employment rates in Hidalgo.
All this has been recognised by the OECD, which emphasises the role of the government in devising a modern framework through which investments are encouraged, supported and expedited. These efforts have also been identified and valued by different international credit rating agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. From 2016 to 2019 Standard & Poor’s upgraded Hidalgo’s ratings outlook from negative to stable, sending a clear message to investors and observers that the government’s economic strategy is yielding positive results.
How does the government plan to further boost business efficiency and productivity?
FAYAD: The administration has prioritised transitioning to an e-government. Making use of the 300-km fibre-optic infrastructure we are deploying throughout the state, our goal is to digitalise government services and procedures in order to boost business efficiency and productivity. This comprehensive technology roadmap we are building will enable us to provide administrative services remotely and remove unnecessary bureaucracy. This technology platform will also allow us to provide high-speed internet to all communities around the state and set the infrastructure foundations to connect local educational institutions, research and development facilities, data centres and corporations to the world.