New Publication: Integrating North America’s Energy: A Call for Action

December 17, 2014

By Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute

stock-footage-montage-of-clean-energy-fossil-fuel-pollutionIn February 2014, the leaders of the three North American nations met in Toluca, Mexico, and determined a range of measures to enhance regional competitiveness, including new initiatives on transportation infrastructure, borders and research cooperation. Furthermore, the leaders agreed that, before the end of 2014, a North American Energy Ministers Meeting should take place to “define areas for strong trialteral cooperation on energy.” What these areas might be is still unannounced, but with the successful passage of energy reform legislation through Mexico’s Congress in December 2013, and secondary legislation in August 2014, many of the previously existing barriers to cooperation on oil and gas markets have now disappeared.

The prospects for an energy abundant North America are compelling. Combined, the three countries’ oil production compares favorably with those of the Middle East. As the United States surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer, and with both Mexico and Canada on the verge of significant increases in production, North America’s long-standing position as a hydrocarbons importer will then be reversed. The outlook for North American energy is therefore bright, and the transformation in the regional energy paradigm has been dramatic. However, to achieve the full potential of this newly discovered regional energy wealth, it will be necessary to more fully integrate the three countries’ energy markets. This paper argues that, in order to make North American energy independence a reality, there are several main areas that require attention from the three governments, working together, to make the transition to an integrated North American energy system.

Read the report here.

New Publication: Fostering Innovation in Mexico

December 10, 2014

Innovation2Mexicans are creative and entrepreneurial. Some of the world’s most notable and widely-used technologies have their roots in Mexico. Mexican chemist, Luis Miramontes, for instance, co-invented the progestin used in the first contraceptive pills. Mexican engineer, Guillermo González Camarena received the world’s first patent for the color television. And Mexican writer, Victor Celorio invented InstaBook, the technology that produces a perfect-bound book in one step and just two minutes. Mexico has a fine tradition of science and innovation, and President Enrique Peña Nieto is right to say, “Mexico should recognize, value, and take advantage of the great value of our human resources.” It is the Mexican entrepreneur that has been and will continue to be the strength of the nation’s economy and the driver of innovation.

To increase understanding of the benefits and challenges of innovation and to aid in the development of policy recommendations that encourage innovation in Mexico, the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars held a High-Level Innovation Forum for Policymakers in November 2013. The forum covered several topics related to innovation, including: entrepreneurship, financing innovative businesses, regulation, spillovers between universities and companies and the role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Questions examined at the forum included: How has the global economy changed, and what does it mean for innovation? How should we be thinking about innovation? What conditions are necessary for innovation to thrive? How can we attract greater investment for innovation activities? What types of government policies and regulations can strengthen innovation? How can we better integrate science and technology into practical applications? What are the barriers to innovation, and how can we overcome them? This publication summarizes the main themes of the conference and highlights some lessons learned. The purpose of this paper is to aid in ongoing dialogue, the next stage of which will take place in Washington, DC in November, 2014 (The publication is available both in English and Spanish).

Read the publication here.

Will Scandals In Mexico Dampen Investment?

November 25, 2014

11/25/14 Forbes

bridge with trafficThe past few months have been a difficult time for Mexico. In a recent article for the World Politics Review I explained, “Autumn has been a difficult season for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Public furor has erupted into sustained and sometimes violent protests over the disappearance of 43 students in the rural southwestern state of Guerrero. Long one of Mexico’s poorest, most crime-ridden and isolated states, Guerrero had not been a priority for Pena Nieto’s administration, which has focused tirelessly on promoting the image of a modern and efficient Mexico to foreign investors.”  Although 2014 has marked a number of successful economic reforms and an uptick in economic growth, Mexico’s autumn has been sullied by scandals.

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Mexico’s Energy Reforms: A Progress Report

November 25, 2014

November 25, 2014 Wilson Center Now 

stock-footage-montage-of-clean-energy-fossil-fuel-pollutionMexico is attempting to turn one of the world’s most closed energy programs into one of its most open. Is transformational change possible? And if success is achieved, what are the implications for Mexico, its neighbors, and the world? Duncan Wood is an expert on energy issues and also serves as Director of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute. He provides insight and analysis during this edition of Wilson Center NOW.

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Mexico’s Missing Students: Growing Demands for Answers and Justice

November 25, 2014

11/20/14 Wilson Center on Demand 



It’s been two months since the arrest and disappearance of a group of Mexican students, and anger and demands for answers and justice continues to grow. What does this tragic situation tell us about security in Mexico? And has government and law enforcement, at all levels, responded effectively? These are just some of the questions addressed by Mexico Institute Director Duncan Wood during this episode of NOW.

Watch here:

Mexico Massacres Dim Pena Nieto Limelight as ‘Lawlessness’ Looms

October 27, 2014

10/24/14 Bloomberg

Duncan Wood

Duncan Wood

While the student disappearances and Tlatlaya killings probably won’t stop companies from investing in oil projects and auto plants in other parts of Mexico, they show the weakness of the nation’s local governments, said Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “This highlights one of the major weaknesses in Mexico, which is the weakness of institutions,” Wood said in a telephone interview. “You can have all the reforms you want on the economic level but until we have institutions at the state and local level that can really apply the rule of law, Mexico is going to be held back in its development.”

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A challenge for Mexican president as parents wait for news of missing students

October 16, 2014

10/16/14 The Christian Century

mexico-securityIn fact, in his nearly two years in office Peña Nieto has rarely spoken about violence—an issue that consumed President Calderón’s agenda, including a public crackdown on organized crime and drug cartels. The former president’s approval rating wavered as he often found the media message spinning out of his control. Pena Nieto has taken a markedly different approach, at least publicly. “The conversation about organized crime changed significantly when Enrique Peña Nieto took over,” says Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute and the Wilson Center for International Scholars, a Washington-DC-based think tank. Peña Nieto has deemphasized security as a feature of the “Mexican reality,” and focused on the country’s economic potential, Wood said.

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