Interview: President Enrique Peña Nieto
In what ways is your administration improving the position of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Mexico?
PRESIDENT ENRIQUE PEÑA NIETO: We decided that any policy should be aimed not only at companies, but also at entrepreneurs. Therefore, we have two broad objectives: to promote innovative ventures through the creation of capital funds and the development of innovation hubs for entrepreneurs to develop their models, prototypes and first product tests; and to support the modernisation of small businesses through training, consulting, financing and incorporating new technologies to make them more productive.
At the start of this administration, Mexico had an underdeveloped entrepreneurship and innovation support environment. A recent survey by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked Mexico as the Latin American country with the highest growth in innovative ventures between 2012 and 2016. We are the country with the second largest number of start-ups in Latin America, and we enjoy the most even distribution of support ecosystems and start-up developments anywhere in the region.
Thanks to the Simplified Stock Companies initiative, companies can now be created for free, via the internet, in just 24 hours. Since 2012 we have supported more than 1.6m entrepreneurs and 730,000 SMEs through such programmes.
How is the government ensuring that national infrastructure development aligns with the country’s growing trade flows?
PEÑA NIETO: Despite a complex international economic context, infrastructure continues to be a key priority for the country with 28 motorways and 58 highways having been completed since 2012.
With construction well under way, the new Mexico City International Airport will have an initial capacity of 50m passengers – serving a possible 120m at the end of its second phase – elevating Mexico to the status of a key air logistics hub in Latin America.
Additionally, we are modernising our ports. In 2016 Mexico reached a capacity of 400m tonnes of operative load, and by 2018 we aim to double port capacity from 2012 levels with expansions planned at Manzanillo, Lázaro Cárdenas, Matamoros, Seybaplaya and Tuxpan, as well as the construction of the landmark New Port of Veracruz.
The rail network will continue to be a key transport axis with intermodal terminals designed to improve logistics efficiency, and key projects in the pipeline such as the Mexico City-Toluca train and a new border rail crossing between Tamaulipas and Texas.
How are the automotive and aerospace industries contributing to research and development (R&D), innovation and competition?
PEÑA NIETO: Mexico has become the seventh-largest producer and the fourth-largest exporter of vehicles globally. To continue on this path we need to keep investing in human capital, which is our most valuable asset.
From 2014 to 2015 the number of graduates in engineering and technology programmes increased by 7%, complemented by 200 R&D centres in the country. Approximately 65% of researchers at academic and research centres have a postgraduate degree in the automotive sector and, on average, academic and research centres devote 30-40% of their time to the automotive industry.
The government has also established an advisory council for the aerospace industry, focused on generating strategies for supplier development, human capital, and technology and investment promotion. We expect to increase industry production and generate up to 110,000 new jobs by 2020, underscoring our role in global supply chains.
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