Mexico in 2014: Can Peña Nieto Consolidate Reform?

January 3, 2014

Enrique Pena NietoBy Duncan Wood

CNN, 1/3/2014

Last year will go down as an extraordinary, historic year in Mexico. A number of structural and political reforms that had been pending for 15 years were approved by the country’s Congress addressing education, labor markets, telecoms competition, financial regulation, fiscal affairs, elections rules and energy. The government of Enrique Peña Nieto remained the darling of international investors throughout the year, and received record levels of foreign direct investment in the first year of its mandate, by following through on his promised reform agenda and delivering the legislation needed to prepare Mexico for a more competitive global economic environment. His ruling PRI (Revolutionary Institutional Party) showed coherence and unity throughout the year, and the other major parties agreed to work closely with the PRI to secure legislative progress.

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Op-Ed: Hello 2014: For Mexico, the hard work starts now

January 3, 2014

Mexican Flag XXLBy Duncan Wood and Christopher Wilson

FT Beyondbrics, 1/3/2014

We will look back on 2013 as a truly historic year for Mexico. The scale of the reform process that was undertaken and largely achieved by President Enrique Peña Nieto is astonishing by comparison not only with other countries around the world today, but also in the context of recent Mexican history. For 15 years Mexico had seemed condemned to endure one of the less palatable elements of democratic systems, legislative gridlock. However President Peña Nieto, through a combination of determination, hard bargaining and political skill, has managed to work with the congress to pass a series of major reforms that do much to put Mexico on the road to modernity and competitiveness.

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Op-Ed: NAFTA and Open Regionalism

January 2, 2014

120px-North_America_(orthographic_projection).svgBy Christopher Wilson and Duncan Wood

Excelsior, 1/2/2014

With the North American Free Trade Agreement completing 20 years, it is a good moment to reflect and look toward the region’s future and its place in the world economy.

It is important to recognize that NAFTA was a first-generation free trade agreement, originally conceived in the 1980s, and for that reason it was very limited.

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North American Competitiveness: The San Diego Agenda

November 26, 2013

energy- oil pumps 2By Laura Dawson, Christopher Sands, and Duncan Wood

The San Diego Agenda came out of the North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference (NACIC) held in San Diego October 27-29, 2013 where Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast, Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo and U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker met to discuss “three countries, two borders, one economy.” In this publication, Duncan Wood, Chris Sands and Laura Dawson argue that North American economic integration must be deepened in order to compete more effectively globally.
Read the full publication here.

Energy Podcast Series, Institute of the Americas

November 6, 2013

Duncan,-for-wwics-site-2Mexico Institute Director Duncan Wood spoke to Jeremy Martin, Energy Program Director at the Institute of the Americas, about Mexico and energy. Listen to the podcast here.


A Look at Mexico’s Political Reform-The Expert Take

October 17, 2013

By Duncan Wood

As the Mexican congress debates two major economic reforms (fiscal and energy) a third reform debate, this time over changing the rules and institutions of the Mexican political system, is in full swing. Recent proposals by the opposition PAN and PRD parties have highlighted rival but complementary plans for addressing what are seen by some as the most problematic weaknesses of democracy in the country. As a central element of the Pacto por Mexico, we should expect that political reform will occur, and its implications for Mexico’s political balance will be profoundly felt.

Over the past three decades, piecemeal political reforms in Mexico have played a role in the gradual transformation from a closed authoritarian system to an evolving democracy. The true significance of many of these reforms was not apparent at the time, but they have played important roles in the path of democratization. The creation of the Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE) stands out as perhaps the most important of these but, as Rod Camp has pointed out, other reforms have proven to be highly significant in the long term.

Read the full article here.


HAPPENING NOW: Duncan Wood Testifies Before Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

June 18, 2013
Jesus Villaseca (Flickr)

Jesus Villaseca (Flickr)

“Security Cooperation in Mexico: Examining the Next Steps in the U.S.-Mexico Security Relationship”

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs / Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere and Global Narcotics Affairs

Duncan Wood, Director of the Mexico Institute, joins a panel of experts in testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations regarding the U.S.-Mexico security relationship.

Live webcast available here.

Transcript of Duncan Wood’s testimony available here.


Mexico debates opening its doors for shale development

May 16, 2013

pipeline and guageFuelFix, 5/15/2013

Energy reform is likely to be one of the most important sweeping legislative changes that an incoming Mexican government will address, experts said Wednesday at a Houston conference on energy issues. The PRI government, which led the government for most of last century and who won the 2012 election, has indicated that it may consider expanding opportunities for private and international companies to help it expand needed infrastructure to develop its natural resources, including a wealth of natural gas.

One of the key issues is whether any reforms will focus on Mexico’s state-owned energy company, PEMEX, or will make more sweeping, fundamental changes. Either way will open up additional energy supply, said Duncan Wood, the director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center “That is a crazy situation for a country that has the fourth largest share of natural gas in the world,” Duncan said. “PEMEX can’t do it alone. It doesn’t have the know-how and technological experience to work in deeper waters and on shale.”

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New Resources: Immigration and Border Realities, Regional Competitiveness, Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement

April 2, 2013

The Mexico Institute is pleased to share with you the following new resources:

Andrew SeleeThe New Reality at the Border

Andrew Selee, Vice President for Programs at the Wilson Center and Senior Advisor to the Mexico Institute, wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, titled “The New Reality at the Border.” Selee asserts that in the future, illegal immigration flows to the U.S. are likely to come from places farther away than Mexico, due to the deterrent effect of increased border security, the well-performing Mexican economy, and Mexico’s changing demographic profile.

Duncan,-for-wwics-site-2Subcommittee Hearing: U.S. Energy Security: Enhancing Partnerships with Mexico and Canada

To read Duncan Wood’s statement from the hearing click here

Duncan Wood, Director of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on March 14, 2013. The hearing, titled “U.S. Energy Security: Enhancing Partnerships with Mexico and Canada,” included a discussion of the Keystone XL pipeline and the Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement.

Wilson_ChristopherTowards a Regional Competitiveness Agenda

Christopher Wilson, Associate at the Mexico Institute, wrote an opinion piece for Animal Politico, a news site on Mexican politics. The op-ed encourages Mexico and the United States to develop a regional competitiveness agenda that envisions North America as the most competitive region in the world, addressing issues such as efficient border management, bilateral cooperation on international trade negotiations, regulatory harmonization, trade liberalization in services such as transportation and healthcare, and the simplification of customs procedures.

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Mexico’s telecoms reform bill – The Expert Take

March 15, 2013

shutterstock_70763086By Duncan Wood, 3/15/2013

In another bold move, the Enrique Peña Nieto government has presented legislation to the Mexican Congress that is aimed at reducing the power and monopolistic control that is currently held by the dominant players in the country’s telecommunications sector. The legislation, which appears to have a strong chance of passing through the legislature, is a further attempt by the government to wrest back control of the economy and Mexican politics from the so-called “poderes fácticos,” or vested interests. It shows the effectiveness both of the government’s approach, and of the negotiating mechanism that it is employing in its legislative agenda, namely the Pacto Por México.

The telecoms reform is far-reaching and revolutionary. First, it aims to create a new independent regulatory body that will have the power to restrain companies that have more than 50 percent of the market, and in turn will offer an opening to new, smaller firms. At its most extreme, the regulator will have the power to break up dominant firms, forcing them to sell assets. But the regulator will also possess the power to set maximum prices for interconnections, currently seen as being a severe obstacle to the emergence of rival firms in the fixed-line and wireless market.

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