Forging friendship between China and Mexico

Enrique Peña Nieto calls for closer Sino-Mexican co-operation not only in trade and investment, but also tourism and cultural exchanges, during his four-day visit to Hong Kong and Boao

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 April, 2013, 3:02am

The future of the global economy in the 21st century will be largely defined by what happens in the Asia-Pacific region.

Consequently, as president of Mexico, it is a priority and an honour to visit Hong Kong at the beginning of both my administration and that of President Xi Jinping. We want to relaunch our bilateral relations with China and explore new co-operation opportunities between our countries. I am convinced that Mexico must enhance its alliances with its Asian partners, home to some of the world's most dynamic economies and a true powerhouse of growth and innovation.

My government acknowledges the need to strengthen our relationship with China and open a strategic window of opportunity to bolster all our cultural and economic ties with the region.

Furthermore, both of our governments share a common challenge: we need to find the proper framework for the bilateral relationship to grow and prosper on a win-win basis.

A possible and feasible future, defined by a strong China-Mexico relationship, represents true opportunities for both countries. China is well on its way to become the world's largest global market and thus represents an economic success story from which the world can certainly learn a few lessons.

Mexico's commitment to macroeconomic stability and competitiveness will make it one of the 10 largest global economies by 2050. Thus now is the best time to develop a long-term strategy to maximise economic opportunities between our countries.

China represents a great chance for Mexico to diversify and expand its export capacity, as well as to increase its productive investment and its overall presence in Asia. Moreover, my administration is determined to further our economic relationship with Hong Kong.

According to Hong Kong trade figures, Hong Kong's total exports (including re-exports from mainland China) to Mexico amounted to HK$16.19 billion in 2011 while it imported HK$4.39 billion worth of goods from Mexico. While these numbers are very positive, I am sure we can find new opportunities to increase trade and investment, as well as to promote tourism, and encourage cultural exchanges.

Among other regional opportunities, Mexico can offer business leaders from mainland China and Hong Kong a strong investment platform, as well as access to the North American market - complying with Nafta rules of origin.

Further, my government is committed to attracting Chinese investment. In particular, we are interested in promoting high-growth industries, such as those that produce car parts, electronics, medical devices, agricultural goods and beverages.

Most observers agree that Mexico is currently going through a favourable moment. The reason for this condition is its economic stability, a growing middle-class domestic market, a world-class industrial base, large-scale infrastructure projects, as well as a reform agenda to promote growth.

My administration is looking forward to finding new ways to strengthen our partnership. Last month, our agreement with Hong Kong to prevent double taxation came into effect, thus helping safeguard taxing rights between our countries and providing greater certainty to our businesses. My government also signed a co-operation agreement with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, which will help increase exports and trade.

In 2004, the Mexican government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region signed a bilateral agreement to eliminate visa requirements for tourists. Unfortunately, we haven't taken full advantage of it. According to Mexico's Tourism Board, only 1,435 Hong Kong visitors travelled to Mexico last year.

My intention is to promote everything Mexico has to offer, and work with my colleagues here, to promote our respective cultures.

In this context, I am proud to announce that the National Museum of Cultures in Mexico City reopened its permanent exhibition dedicated to China earlier this year. It has scheduled a series of lectures exploring Asian and Chinese influence in the Mexican culture.

Also, we must work together to make it easier for people from Hong Kong to travel to Mexico. For this purpose, my government will encourage Asian airlines to establish convenient connections between Mexico and Hong Kong.

We have a great opportunity to capitalise on the strategic importance of the Asia-Pacific region, encourage multilateral trade and further co-operation within the Pacific Rim. And this very first trip I make around Asia is a clear proof of the intention of my government to enhance Mexico's ties with the region. It is only through constant dialogue that we will be able to achieve the goals we are aiming as strategic partners. Never have the two shores of the Pacific been closer than they are now; it is a chance we better not miss.

During the four days I will be spending between Hong Kong and Boao , I intend to convey a clear message of openness and friendship; to share the willingness to work together towards the benefit of both our peoples and countries.

I am very optimistic about the future of Chinese-Mexican relations, as we have a joint historic opportunity to define the prospects of our economies and their bonding. As we forge closer cultural, economic and political ties between our two countries, a renewed China-Mexico alliance will, no doubt, benefit both our populations.

Enrique Peña Nieto is president of Mexico