Mexico and the UK: sharing the best they have to offer
By Diego Gomez Pickering
| Dec 22 |
As 2015 draws to a close, Mexico and the UK can look back on 12 months of enriching exchanges as part of their Dual Year, originally conceived as a cultural initiative but subsequently expanded far beyond to areas including trade, investment, tourism, education, science and innovation.
Throughout the “Year of Mexico in the United Kingdom” and the “Year of the United Kingdom in Mexico” both countries have combined efforts and seized an historic opportunity to consolidate economic progress. Two main goals have been achieved: the doubling of bilateral trade to $7bn, and achieving the figure of half a million Britons travelling to Mexico yearly, a number that, taking into account the importance of tourism for the Mexican economy, has resulted in a windfall of $17.5bn.
The roots of the Dual Year run deep. The UK stands out as having been the first European country to recognize Mexico’s independence and to have established business relations with us in 1825.
It was Prime Minister David Cameron who noted that the UK and Mexico are among the strongest advocates of free trade and open economies, and are both strong supporters of further trade liberalisation. No wonder we are natural partners on the global stage, cooperating closely within the G-20, the OECD, the UN and other multilateral settings. The free trade agreement signed between the European Union and Mexico offers contemporary evidence: since it came into force in 2000, our bilateral trade with the UK has grown 153 per cent.
Mexico’s network of 12 free trade agreements linking us to 44 countries attests to our openness and commitment to expanding our export base. Most recently, Mexico joined Colombia, Chile and Peru in the Pacific Alliance, a regional integration that represents the World’s eighth largest economy. In parallel, our country was actively involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, an economic bloc that encompasses 40 per cent of world GDP and one-third of world exports and, once ratified by its participants’ parliaments, will become a milestone of international trade.
Nowadays, more than 1,500 British companies participate in Mexico’s financial, mining and manufacturing sectors. Nevertheless, we want even more British investment in our country. Fortunately, that desire is backed by what we believe is Mexico’s extremely promising economic dynamism. We are currently the 14th largest economy in the world with a GDP of over $1.2tn and growing, trading $700bn in goods and services annually, $500bn of which is with the US – that’s a million dollars a minute. Currently, the UK remains our fifth largest trading partner in Europe and 14th worldwide.
By invitation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, President Enrique Peña Nieto conducted a state visit in early March, in which ProMexico, our trading promotion institution, dedicated to the internationalization of Mexican companies and foreign investment into the country, held a “Mexico Day” at Mansion House where a High Level Economic Group was launched.
The Dual Year has also provided a platform to present potential British investors with the many opportunities that Mexico offers as an emerging market, especially with the continuing transformational efforts Mexico is undergoing, including constitutional reforms in labour, public education, fiscal policy, electoral transparency, telecommunications and energy, among others.
In continuing to project our country’s economic and commercial dynamism as an ideal destination for investment, the Dual Year has also been successful in attracting foreign capital investment in Mexico, which last year alone reached $30bn. It is worth mentioning that our aerospace industry alone was able to attract investments of approximately £264m from British companies last year, promoting the creation of more jobs and infrastructure developments in a sector that currently employs 32,000 highly skilled professionals across 300 companies.
Meanwhile, to keep the tourism promotion momentum on the boil, Aeromexico and British Airways – two leading transatlantic airlines – increased the number of weekly flights to each country, as well as their passenger capacity. In 2015, the number of British leisure and business visits to Mexico went up accordingly, keeping the UK in its position as our third most important market for tourism, surpassed only by our NAFTA partners.
Looking forward, Mexico City’s projected new International Airport also falls within the Dual Year’s scope. In a shining example of the possibilities of bilateral collaboration, British architect Norman Foster and Mexican Fernando Romero have jointly designed a brand new terminal to begin construction next year. It will include 95 gates and will have a turnaround of 120m passengers a year (equivalent to Mexico’s entire population in 2015). In its final stage, to be completed by 2020, the airport will be equipped with six runways.
So as the Dual Year winds down, I believe we can safely say that in 2015 Mexico shared not only with England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but also with the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, the best it has to offer. Based on its transformative effort at home and its Dual Year on these isles, global expectations for Mexico as an emerging market are now running high in the United Kingdom and will do for years to come.
Diego Gomez Pickering is Ambassador of Mexico to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.