New Publication | A Mandate for Mexico

June 29, 2015

By Lucy Conger

mandate for mexicoIt was not so long ago that Mexico teetered on the brink of bankruptcy following a short-lived oil boom and a wild run of government spending. And, until quite recently, Mexico, despite sharing a 2,000-mile border with the United States, kept foreign goods out and gave domestic industries nearly exclusive access to a country-sized captive market.

Free trade has made Mexico a powerful manufacturing platform, a top global automobile assembler, and has radically diversified the economy, sharply reducing dependence on oil exports. The paradigm shift that unfettered Mexico’s protected and closed economy has been highly successful in creating a stable economic and policy environment and in making Mexico a marketfriendly global super-trader. But formidable challenges remain. Economic growth has slowed and consistently falls short of the level needed to create enough jobs to absorb the expanding domestic labor force.

Mexico is at a critical juncture. The record shows that the first wave of reforms that began 30 years ago failed to deliver the desired boost to economic growth and competitiveness. The reforms now underway promise even bigger changes for the economy, particularly by opening up the long closed petroleum industry. Looking ahead, can the new wave of reforms move Mexico into a higher gear, stimulate increases in productivity and economic growth, lubricate the economy with more credit, establish and enforce genuine competition in strategic sectors, and train the work force in modern skills? Or, three decades hence will we look back and say the Peña Nieto reforms were inadequately implemented and Mexico remains a low-growth, low-productivity economy?

This is a timely moment for reviewing Mexico’s success with deep economic reforms and asking what is required from here on in to make the new wave of reforms successful so that Mexico and Mexicans can enjoy the benefits of higher growth and productivity. This study offers a qualitative analysis of the deep economic reforms undertaken in Mexico during the past 30 years, the progress made and informed opinions on what is needed today to boost economic growth, enhance competitiveness and, hopefully, increase employment. The study summarizes the views about the successes and failures of the first wave of reforms as seen by a select group of former cabinet members and other prominent policy makers, consultants to government, opinion shapers in policy centers, and thought leaders in academia.

Download the report here.


EVENT THIS AFTERNOON: NAFTA & the Strengthening of the Mexican Economy

June 29, 2015

120px-North_America_(orthographic_projection).svgWHEN: TODAY, June 29, 2:00-3:30pm

WHERE: 5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center

Click here to RSVP.

A live webcast will be available here.

Two decades ago, Canada, Mexico, and the United States created a continental economy. Since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico has lived through a currency crisis, a democratic transition, and the rising challenge of Asian manufacturing. Many of the dynamics of North America today, from Mexico’s reform agenda to continental concerns about competitiveness, have their roots in the conditions that produced NAFTA, in the agreement itself, and in the tremendous transformations it wrought. Looking back at that period provides context for understanding today’s reforms. Today, Mexico’s competitiveness agenda, championed by President Enrique Peña Nieto and widely supported by the Mexican Congress, includes specific actions oriented toward promoting larger inflows of foreign investment by opening strategic economic sectors to private participation. This package of reforms would bring a sweeping transformation of the economy.

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute is pleased to invite you to an event on NAFTA and the Mexican economy. Jaime Serra Puche will present his book NAFTA and the Building of a Region. An Essay from the Mexican Perspective and Lucy Conger will present her paper on Mexican competitiveness, A Mandate for Mexico. Ambassador Carla A. Hills will provide commentary on both publications, in relation to the broader subjects of NAFTA and the Mexican economy.

Speakers

Jaime Serra Puche
Chairman, SAI Law and Economics

Ambassador Carla A. Hills
Chair and CEO, Hills & Company, International Consultants

Lucy Conger
Independent Journalist

Moderator

Duncan Wood
Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center


Upcoming Event! NAFTA and the Strengthening of the Mexican Economy

June 23, 2015

NAFTAWHEN: Monday, June 29, 2:00-3:30pm

WHERE: 5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington, DC

Click here to RSVP. 

Two decades ago, Canada, Mexico, and the United States created a continental economy. Since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico has lived through a currency crisis, a democratic transition, and the rising challenge of Asian manufacturing. Many of the dynamics of North America today, from Mexico’s reform agenda to continental concerns about competitiveness, have their roots in the conditions that produced NAFTA, in the agreement itself, and in the tremendous transformations it wrought. Looking back at that period provides context for understanding today’s reforms. Today, Mexico’s competitiveness agenda, championed by President Enrique Peña Nieto and widely supported by the Mexican Congress, includes specific actions oriented toward promoting larger inflows of foreign investment by opening strategic economic sectors to private participation. This package of reforms would bring a sweeping transformation of the economy.

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute is pleased to invite you to an event on NAFTA and the Mexican economy. Jaime Serra Puche will present his book NAFTA and the Building of a Region. An Essay from the Mexican Perspective and Lucy Conger will present her paper on Mexican competitiveness, A Mandate for Mexico. Ambassador Carla A. Hills will provide commentary on both publications, in relation to the broader subjects of NAFTA and the Mexican economy.

Speakers

Jaime Serra Puche
Chairman, SAI Law and Economics

Ambassador Carla A. Hills
Chair and CEO, Hills & Company, International Consultants

Lucy Conger
Independent Journalist

Moderator

Duncan Wood
Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Click here to RSVP. There will be a live webcast of this event.


The Latin American Foreign Investment Boom: Recent Trends and the Evolution of Multilatinas

June 11, 2015

multilatinasBy Adrián Blanco Estévez

Latin American companies—both public (state-owned enterprises) and private—have been growing in size and presence abroad, through operations that range from modest representation offices to acquisitions of first-world corporations. The phenomenon of “multilatinas” comprises the growing number of companies that gradually began to invest abroad in the 1990s, but surged forward with a huge wave of investment starting in 2000. In fact, 2010-2012 marked the highest levels of FDI outflows from Latin America in the region’s history.

Mexico is no stranger to the birth of multilatinas. Mexico, along with Brazil and Chile, leads the way in terms of presence of multilatinas, and is the second most important country in the region in terms of FDI outflows, accounting for virtually all outflows from Central America. Additionally, Mexico is the leader among the Latin American countries in terms of investment in the United States. Thus, with 18 multilatinas and 24.5 percent of total FDI outflows from Latin America, the surge in foreign investments by major Mexican companies is clear

This publication, The Latin American Foreign Investment Boom: Recent Trends and the Evolution of Multilatinas, analyzes the multilatina phenomenon in order to define its characteristics today, including political, institutional, economic, and financial factors that explain these companies’ birth, develompent, and transformation into global players.

Download the publication here.


Upcoming Conference! Building a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border

June 9, 2015

WHEN: Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 8:00am-4:15pm

WHERE: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC

CLICK HERE TO RSVP

The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, the Border Trade Alliance, and the Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos invite you to our second annual high-level “Building a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border” conference. Speakers will discuss the state of the art in border and transportation infrastructure, growth in the energy sector, border-region innovation, and the need for efforts that simultaneously support security and efficiency in border management.

There will be a live webcast of this event.

Agenda

8:00 – 8:30am Registration 

8:35 – 8:45am  Welcome, Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute

8:45 – 9:35am   Legislative Opportunities to Strengthen Border Competitiveness
Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Congressman Will Hurd (TX-23)
Senator Ernesto Ruffo Appel, Presidente de la Comisión de Asuntos Fronterizos Norte
Moderator: Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico Institute Advisory Board Member and Former Mexican Ambassador to the United States

9:35 – 10:15am  Keynote, Senator John Cornyn (TX), Majority Whip, United States Senate
                         Introduction, Andrew Selee, Executive Vice President, Wilson Center

10:30 – 12:00pm  Building Tomorrow’s Border Today: The State of the Art in Infrastructure Financing, Customs, and Port of Entry Management
Geronimo Gutierrez, Director, North American Development Bank
Jesse Hereford, Chairman, Border Trade Alliance, Director of Business Development, S&B Infrastructure
Jose Martin Garcia, Representative for the Mexican Treasury and Tax Administration Service in Washington, DC
Moderator: Erik Lee, Executive Director, North American Research Partnership

12:00 – 12:25pm  Keynote, Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner, Customs and Border Protection (Confirmed)
     Introduction: TBA

12:25 – 1:30pm Lunch: Crossborder Cooperation for a Competitive North America
Opening Remarks: Michael Camuñez, President and CEO, ManattJones Global Strategies, Board Member, Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos
Keynote Address: Ildefonso Guajardo, Secretary of Economy (Invited)

1:30 – 2:15pm Energy Revolutions: How Natural Gas and Renewables are Changing the Border Energy Landscape
Omar Garcia, South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable
Thomas Tunstall, Research Director, Institute for Economic Development, The University of Texas at San Antonio
Moderator and Comments on Renewable Energy: Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

2:15 – 2:35pm Break

2:35 – 3:25pm Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Building Ideas, Human Capital, and New Businesses in the Border Region
Rachel Poynter, Acting Director, Office of Mexican Affairs, Department of State
Ricardo Alvarez, Professor, CETYS University, Baja California
Rogelio de los Santos, Managing Director, Alta Ventures Mexico (Invited)
Moderator: Christopher Wilson, Deputy Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

3:25 – 4:00pm A Conversation on the Evolution of U.S.-Mexico Cooperation in Border Management
Ambassador Alejandro Estivill, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Mexico
Alan Bersin, Assistant Secretary of International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer, Department of Homeland Security
Moderator: Denise Ducheny, Center for US-Mexico Studies, UC San Diego, and member, BECC NADB Board of Directors

4:00 – 4:15pm Concluding Remarks
Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos
Border Trade Alliance
Christopher Wilson, Deputy Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

CLICK HERE TO RSVP


Upcoming Conference! Building a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border

May 19, 2015

Border - Roadsign pointing between Nogales, mexico and TucsonWHEN: Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 8:00am-4:00pm

WHERE: 6th Floor Auditorium, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

RSVP HERE.

The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, Border Trade Alliance, and the Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos invite you to our second annual high-level “Building a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border” conference this year, focusing on improving border management in order to strengthen the competitiveness of both the United States and Mexico. Specific emphasis will be put on border and transportation infrastructure, growth in the energy sector, innovation, and the need for efforts that simultaneously support security and efficiency in border management.

Confirmed Speakers (Additional speakers will be added to the program):

  • Senator John Cornyn (TX), Majority Whip, United States Senate
  • Ambassador Alejandro Estivill, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Mexico
  • Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
  • Congressman Will Hurd (TX-23)
  • Geronimo Gutierrez, Director, North American Development Bank
  • Omar Garcia, President & CEO, South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable
  • Jose Martin Garcia, Representative of the Mexican Treasury and Tax Administration Service in Washington, DC
  • Ricardo Alvarez, Professor, CETYS University, Baja California
  • Jesse Hereford, Chairman, Border Trade Alliance, Director of Business Development, S&B Infrastructure
  • Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center
  • Christopher Wilson, Senior Associate, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Click here for more information.

*A live webcast will be available.


How to Boost Border Competitiveness? Just Ask the Folks There.

February 10, 2015

2/10/2015 Forbes.com

By Christopher Wilson and Erik Lee

border coverFor years, the United States’ southern border with Mexico has provoked a range of fears, from terrorism and drugs to overwhelming numbers of unauthorized immigrants, prompting a security-first and often security-only approach to border management. Fear-based rhetoric may resonate in the echo chambers of Washington DC, but it feels wholly out of touch to most (though not all) residents of border communities.

Thankfully, with U.S.-Mexico trade at historic highs and growing faster than trade with any other major trading partner, it is increasingly difficult to ignore the importance of safe and efficient border management to the regional economy. U.S.-Mexico trade is now valued at well over a half trillion dollars per year, 80 percent of which crosses the U.S.-Mexico land border. This trade supports around six million U.S. jobs, and systems of co-production in manufacturing allow companies to combine the comparative advantages of the United States and Mexico, boosting the competitiveness of North America as a whole.

These trends are leading some political leaders to the realization that many in the border region have known for years: the border itself creates a lot of economic opportunity for both nations. And these folks in the border region—popularly imagined to be barely hanging on in a hail of gunfire, even on the sleepy U.S. side—are careful observers of what works and what does not work in terms of trade and economic development. Knowing this, we joined several other organizations in a year-long deep dive into the inner workings of the U.S.-Mexico border economy. But then even we were surprised by the sheer number, variety and magnitude of ideas emanating from this enormous, misunderstood and underappreciated region.

Read more…


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