In an effort to turn a new page after failures due to “early leadership and subsequent neglect”, the U.K. has started focusing on strengthening long-term ties with emerging powers in Latin America, including Mexico.
British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg met with President Enrique Peña Nieto to reinforce bilateral relations they had started building over their last two meetings in March 2011 and June 2013. According to the British government’s press release, “The legacy of this new era of UK-Mexico relations will bring the 2 societies even closer together with 2015 designated as the Year of the UK in Mexico and Year of Mexico in the UK.”
Clegg led the largest trade delegation to Mexico on his Feb 2014 visit. He applauded Peña Nieto’s reform, especially in the energy sector, which has recently been freed from PEMEX’s monopoly and opened to investors after more than seven decades. “I think it’s difficult to exaggerate the significance of this very brave reform by President Peña Nieto because he is opening up the potential for collaboration in an area where the British energy sector excels – deep water exploration.”
Clegg also pointed out that the U.K. had already established a successful fiscal regulatory system, which the Mexicans can follow to overcome the challenges faced during deep sea exploration. “It’s certainly not about us finger wagging and pretending we have all the answers, but I am here . . . in a spirit of partnership.”
Currently, the U.K. is the fifth largest investor in Mexico. The meetings between both countries have resulted in a 9% increase of exports from the UK to Mexico in 2013 alone. The Deputy Prime Minister plans to reach a bilateral trade target of 92.97 billion pesos (£4.2 billion/USD 7.02) by the end of 2015. To achieve that, Clegg announced that the U.K.’s market share in Mexico would be doubled to 1.5% by 2020.
According to Lord Livingston, the Minister of Trade and Investment, the relations between the U.K. and Mexico are bound to grow more positive as UK exports to the Latin American country have increased by 60% since 2009. However, he does believe that both countries have a long way to go. “Much more needs to be done to ensure UK companies can benefit from the huge opportunities these markets offer, particularly in the energy, infrastructure and education sectors. That is why we are taking one of the largest UK trade delegations so far to Mexico and Colombia.”
Despite Mexico’s drug violence; British companies are planning to forgo these threats to avail the opportunities that the new wave of Mexican reforms has to offer. “Most of the investors I’ve spoken to accept there are parts of the country where there is conflict, there is violence, there is insecurity,” Clegg said. “But I think … far from seeing threats, many, most, all of the members of the delegation I’ve brought only see opportunities in Mexico.”
British investors and others from across the world will have less to fear as President Peña Nieto is working on a drug-policy that lowers the income of cartels as well as the rate of corruption in Mexico.