BEIJING – Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard began his official visit to China on Monday with a business meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, that focused on how to increase exports to the Asian nation and bring more investment into his country.
Ebrard and Wang met along with 50 business men and women from China and Mexico for talks about success stories and new business opportunities between the two countries, diplomatic sources revealed to EFE.
According to the Mexican embassy, trade between China and Mexico totaled $90.7 billion last year, making China the Latin American country’s second-biggest trade partner after the United States.
Grupo Bimbo’s strong presence in China was highlighted, along with that of Hisense, a Chinese tech company that has its largest plant in Ciudad Juarez in northern Mexico. Hisense also purchased a plant in Tijuana in 2015 to export products to Canada, the US, and the rest of Latin America.
Ebrard had anticipated before his Asian tour, which also saw him participate in the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, that during his time he would work to speed up Chinese access to Mexican products, both in agriculture and manufacturing.
Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Julian Ventura, told local press in Mexico on Sunday that his country sought from China productive investment in advanced manufacturing, electric and conventional cars, e-commerce, online services and logistics under “clear rules and full transparency.”
In August 2018, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reiterated that the trade balance with China “isn’t favorable,” and vowed to lower the unbalance as much as possible.
But in the opinion of Hispanist, Xu Shicheng, a researcher at the Institute of Latin America who is connected to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, relations with China “will improve” with Lopez Obrador as president.
Ebrand’s meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Osaka signaled hope for Chinese-Mexican relations, he added.
Xu said Xi wanted to invite Lopez Obrador to attend the New Silk Road Forum in April in Beijing but Lopez Obrador had promised not to travel outside of Mexico during the first year of his term.
Xu believed it was possible that Xi would make a stop in Mexico during his scheduled trip to Chile and Brazil in November.
The expert values Chinese investments in Mexico, compared to other Latin American countries such as Chile, Venezuela or Ecuador, which are relatively scarce, “although they are growing, especially in mining, energy and the automotive industry.”
“China and Mexico have not agreed to a free trade agreement and the fruit trade of Chile and Peru have grown. For example, the growth of fruit imports from these countries has surpassed Mexican products,” Xu said.
In addition, the treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada (T-MEC), signed last December but which has so far only been ratified by Mexico – would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), in place since 1994, and could slow down Chinese businesses in the region, according to Xu.
“This treaty joins the recent migration pact between Mexico and the United States. Mexico imports many auto parts from China that it then exports to the United States. However, the new agreement requires a higher percentage of products of origin from the three countries,” he said. “That would affect China.”
According to Xu, Lopez Obrador is “not afraid of pressure from US President Donald Trump about his position on Venezuela and would therefore not be afraid of signing a trade agreement on cooperation with China.