Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in Hong Kong in bid to boost China trade

Pena Nieto adamant Mexico must enhance alliances with Hong Kong and mainland

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 April, 2013, 10:17am

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will arrive in Hong Kong today at the start of a four-day visit to China as the world's 13th-largest economy seeks to tap into East Asia's growing markets and outbound investment.

This is Pena Nieto's first visit to Hong Kong and the mainland since he took office in December. He will attend the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan over the weekend, where he is to meet President Xi Jinping.

Mexico's foreign trade is dominated by its relationship with the United States. But its ties with China are growing fast.

The mainland is Mexico's second-largest source of imports, accounting for 14.9 per cent of the total. It is also Mexico's third-largest export market.

Mexico is Hong Kong's second-largest trading partner in Latin America and the 27th biggest worldwide. Bilateral trade between the two sides grew 17.3 per cent in 2011 - a noticeable acceleration from the 8.6 per cent average in the previous three years.

The Mexican president is seeking to further expand trade with Hong Kong and the mainland and also attract more investment to Mexico.

"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," Pena Nieto writes in the South China Morning Post today.

"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 President Xi Jinping's," he said.

Pena Nieto believes China is well on its way to becoming the world's largest market and says Mexico is also on track to be one of the world's 10 biggest economies by 2050. "Now we need to develop a long-term strategy to maximise the economic opportunities between our countries," he wrote.

While business ties are growing fast, tourism is lagging behind, despite Hong Kong signing a visa-free agreement with Mexica in 2004.

According to Mexico's tourism board, only 1,435 Hong Kong people visited the country in 2012. The Mexican president wants to use the opportunity to promote his country.

"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," he wrote.