MEXICO CITY – President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador celebrated figures released on Wednesday showing that the Mexican economy grew 0.1 percent in the second quarter despite expectations of a recession.
“Life gives you surprises,” he quipped, alluding to analysts’ predictions that Mexico’s gross domestic product would decline for a second straight quarter – the technical definition of a recession.
“This is very good news, above all because it dispels fear and the intent to create lack of confidence,” the leftist president told reporters.
“We were not in doubt (that the economy would grow), but so much insistence on recession brings a degree of uncertainty,” he said.
Mexican GDP declined by 0.2 percent in the first quarter and virtually all private-sector economists forecast an additional fall in the April-June period.
Lopez Obrador, who took office Dec. 1, renewed Wednesday his criticism of the big banks, ratings agencies and global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank over their pessimistic forecasts for Mexico.
“To the experts: your prediction failed,” the president said.
He continues to stick to his estimate of 2 percent growth this year and an average annual expansion of 4 percent for the whole of his term, which ends in 2024.
Most observers, however, expect the Mexican economy to expand by no more than 1 percent in 2019, while the IMF said last week that it was lowering its Mexico growth projection to 0.9 percent.
The peso has strengthened against the dollar, inflation is down and wages have grown in real terms, Lopez Obrador said, pledging that his 2020 budget will maintain the administration’s commitment to hold the line on taxes.
The president likewise vowed that neither Mexico’s national debt nor fuel prices for consumers will increase in 2020.
By the second half of his term, Lopez Obrador said, state-owned oil company Pemex will have begun to generate profits that can be used to stimulate productive activities and attend to social needs.
Two weeks ago, the government presented a new business plan for Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) that calls for reducing its tax rate by 11 percent and investing huge sums to bolster the energy giant, which has been plagued by a decline in oil production and refining, and has a debt-laden balance sheet.