Eduardo Solis - Growing Mexico's Free Trade

There are no hats, rabbits or magic wands..., says Eduardo Solis, chief of the Office for Trade and Investment Promotion and Special Projects at the Ministry of Economics, explaining his approach to promoting industrial foreign investment. "But I will make myself available anytime or go anywhere to pursue foreign direct investment projects, and explain the support they can expect from the Ministry."

A hands on official, Eduardo Solis' experience comes from negotiating and managing on behalf of Mexico NAFTA's agricultural chapter and other trade agreements the country has with nations on the American continent. Born in Monterrey, Mexico, he studied his undergraduate in Economics at the University of Nuevo Leon and continued with graduate studies in the Universities of Chicago and Rochester in the USA.

Solis provides some interesting data: "As a result of its network of 32 Free Trade Agreements, Mexico has become the eighth largest exporter in the world and the second largest exporter to the U.S. market. Currently U.S.-Mexico trade totals more than 680 million dollars every day and interestingly enough, exports from Mexico account for almost twice the total exports of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay put together."

Explaining a chart (Exhibit 1) Solis indicated that, "In 20 years Mexico has turned around its exports, going from being an oil exporting country to one whose main exports today are manufactured goods."

Solis argues that because of Mexico's ample free trade platform, companies can save a lot of money in import duties if they set up shop in Mexico and export their production from here."For example, and depending on the different customs and tariff classification of the products, a significant part of the 3.9 billion dollars that the USA pays in duties for imports from Europe in pharmaceutical, automotive, textile, plastics and fiber optics products, could be saved if they instead came directly from Mexico."

"Our main threat for exports to our main market is the Asian exporting countries, particularly China. They are already gaining ground on us so we need to take other initiatives to increase our trade" (Exhibit 2) Solis describes how Mexico can diversify its trade market within its main existing market: "Almost eighty five percent of Mexican exports to the USA go to only four states: Illinois, Texas, New York and California. There is plenty of opportunity to carve new markets in the other 46 states."

Solis concludes, "Mexico will continue to build on its strengths by improving the education of its young population, diversifying its export markets through more trade agreements, and by improving the country's infrastructure to cash in on our privileged geographical location to serve the US market."

Mexiconow had the opportunity to see Eduardo Solis in action juggling his busy schedule within a few days notice to enthusiastically address for 45 minutes, three hours flying time away, a group of prospective investors. There is a little magic after all in this new breed of public officer.


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