Interview: José Antonio Meade Kuribreña
What are Mexico’s foreign policy priorities in terms of security and economic development?
JOSE ANTONIO MEADE KURIBRENA : Economic development and security are two of the five pillars of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government, and therefore priorities for our foreign policy. We work closely with many countries on these issues. As part of a multi-thematic bilateral agenda we are working on migration and security, and giving strong emphasis to key items such as education, competitiveness, entrepreneurship, innovation and social links.
With North America we share an agenda focused on shared prosperity through trade and tourism; innovation and education; energy and climate change; citizen security; and regional and global outreach. The objective is to make North America the most competitive, dynamic region in the world. Mexico and the US have a unique bilateral relationship. We share a border of more than 3000 km with over 1m people crossing every day and trade being conducted at a rate that exceeds $1m a minute. With Canada – our third-biggest economic partner, fourth-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) and second-largest tourist market – we have agreed on a work programme that reflects the value of the relationship, the application of which will promote the vision we have for North America.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, Mexico seeks greater integration to strengthen us as a regional bloc. Prosperity and security in Mexico and Central America are mutually dependent in many ways. We also have strong ties with the Caribbean and share concerns over common challenges. The Pacific Alliance we created with Chile, Colombia and Peru stands out as a successful mechanism to achieve the free mobility of people, goods, services and capital. Farther afield, we are paying special attention to building stronger and more balanced trade and investment links with the dynamic Asia-Pacific region, and to deepening our already strong ties with Europe. We are also very optimistic of the renewed economic and cooperation impetus with key Middle East countries. Furthermore, we see Africa as one of the world’s regions with the greatest potential and acknowledge the need to strengthen ties.
To what extent would you say Mexico is an investment gateway to Latin America?
MEADE: Mexico has a political and economic model based on democracy, rule of law and an open, diversified economy. The economy has great upside potential, which has awakened interest from investors across the board. Due to our demographics and economic growth, in the next two or three decades Mexico will be one of the world’s top 10 economies, strengthened by the structural reforms currently being implemented. Today Mexico is seen as one of the most committed countries in terms of macroeconomic discipline, the structural reform agenda, and the central role of productivity and social inclusion. The structural reforms presented and approved in the past 18 months will have a positive impact on the energy, financial, education and telecoms sectors. These reforms will pave the way for a stronger, more resilient economy while fostering investment, employment and productivity. They will have a positive impact in 114 out of 140 indicators of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index. These factors are attractive for investors looking for a strong, stable base in Latin America.
Mexico is one of the five main sources of imports for eight of the 18 countries in Latin America and top 10 in all of them, and it exports manufactured goods to the region totalling over $21bn, a figure that grew almost seven-fold between 2002 and 2012. We have free trade agreements with nine countries in the region, including one with most countries in Central America. With our partners in the Pacific Alliance we make up a market of almost 210m people and 35% of Latin American production. The extent to which Mexico can become an investment gateway to Latin America can also be gauged by looking at the internationalisation of Mexican companies over the past decades. Mexican FDI into Latin America in recent years has exceeded $81bn.
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