Interview: Fernando Turner Dávila
What are some structural challenges that are facing Nuevo León’s economy in 2017?
FERNANDO TURNER DAVILA: Nuevo León’s economy is stable mainly due to its diversification. The region generates national and international interest, factors that indicate it is ready for rapid growth. Regarding challenges, the main issue is infrastructure. We are looking to improve investment in an efficient road and rail network to connect residential and industrial areas. Nuevo León’s location is strategic because of its direct connection to the US and the shared border with Laredo, Texas, which is the main point to communicate bilateral commerce between the US and Latin America. One of the major structural challenges is the launching of a new initiative that will transform the economy, Industry 4.0. This enormous effort aims to be completed in a few years and will work with companies, clusters, chambers of commerce and universities. Industry 4.0 will revolutionise the manufacturing sector, while changing the perception of doing business in Nuevo León, as we intend to be the best business production platform in the world. Now is the perfect moment to begin this initiative of improving our international competitive position.
With the US purchasing 80-82% of national exports, should Mexico reduce this dependence?
TURNER: These concentrated figures are natural and logical since the US is the biggest market, a neighbour and a natural trade partner when looking at both of our countries’ needs. The US’ proximity indeed explains its present influence in the Mexican economy, as it is a place to establish reciprocal businesses.
The North American Free Trade Agreement was created with the idea of improving economic development between our continent’s three countries and it has been mutually positive. Initially, it was known that this agreement was going to be a success for some sectors but not as much for others, such as agri-business, which may have been negatively affected by the deal.
To what extent can energy reform boost the economy and business environment in Nuevo León?
TURNER: Nuevo León has a competitive advantage in the energy sector. The state consumes significant power so reform allows companies to build their own generation plants close to their facilities to control their energy, save freight costs and be more efficient. Closer proximity to energy means more competitive business.
Nuevo León has another advantage: its proximity to Texas, one of the cheapest places in the world to buy gas. At this moment, there are two gas pipelines under construction that will feed electric generation plants and independent companies to the state. Nuevo León has the privilege of accessing cheap energy and we want to join this with the purpose of stimulating higher industrial growth. In addition, further reform will bring important projects for renewable energies – an ideal way for companies to supply their energy while increasing environmental awareness.
How would you assess the benefits of working in close cooperation with economic clusters?
TURNER: It is rewarding to see how well clusters work in Nuevo León and it is something that we are proud of. Clusters allow competitor companies to collaborate and analyse the future of their industries in order to learn how to face difficulties with the best approach. It is a positive step that many other states in Mexico should replicate. Undoubtedly, clusters help develop industries quite rapidly thanks to the knowledge-sharing atmosphere they create.
Furthermore, clusters save time and investment efforts for developing specific sectors, as professionals are able to learn from the prior successes and mistakes of their industry colleagues. As a result, economic performance is bettered and positive synergies are generated to build solid sectoral pillars. Likewise, clusters sustain the preliminary stages of the Industry 4.0 plan that will become the economic future of this state.
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