MEXICO – The Mexican government should work to harness its relationship with China, its second largest trading partner, to exchange technology and increase exports, according to businesses and analysts consulted by Efe.
“What we are obviously looking for is to diversify our trade,” said Jorge Alberto Morones, vice president of the Mexican-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Technology.
“I think we already look north too much and now it’s time to look a bit more towards this country (China),” he said.
Exchanges with China accounted for 9.9 percent of Mexico’s trade in 2018, with a total value of $91 billion, according to a report by the Ministry of Economy using data from the World Trade Organization and Bank of Mexico.
Of this total, 84 billion related to Chinese exports, which meant a trade deficit for Mexico at a rate of 12:1.
Morones is thus asking the federal government to lobby two issues with China: expanding the number of phytosanitary protocols approved to sell more products and negotiating a reduction of tariffs.
The Chamber of Commerce representative, which brings together about 200 companies, also urged the promotion of technological exchange between the two countries, arguing that Mexican industry is made more competitive by acquiring technology from China than nations like Germany, South Korea and Japan.
“We, as Mexico, first have to start seeing China as an opportunity and not a problem, as an obstacle.
“We can see China as a customer in many ways,” Morones said.
China is willing to “further promote trade liberalization and facilitation with Mexico,” said ambassador Zhu Qingqiao on Monday, offering a “welcome to more high-quality agricultural and manufacturing products.”
For this, Mexico “has to increase its exports substantially” and take advantage of the will of the Chinese government to reduce the Mexican trade deficit, said Sergio Ley, the president of the Asia-Pacific section of the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade (COMCE).
“The sector that has had the greatest dynamism has been agriculture. However, we also want to develop the industrial sector, industrial products, we want to export them.
“There is a lot of complementarity between the two countries,” said Ley, who was also Mexico’s ambassador to Beijing.
As a sign of progress, the business representative cited Mexico’s participation in the second International Import Exhibition in China, which was held last November in Shanghai and where preliminary deals worth $250 million were agreed.
The relationship with China has not been “maximized” because Mexico has always been seen as a “natural strategic partner to the United States,” said Roberto Salinas, an associate of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI).
For that reason, the Mexican government should maintain an “open door” policy with clear rules when it comes to Chinese investment, and take advantage of the commercial tension between Beijing and Washington, according to Salinas, who is also president of the Mexico Business Forum.
The COMEXI associate saw “great opportunities” for Chinese investment in Mexican logistics, transportation, ports, construction and energy projects, especially in the south and southeast.
As proof, he highlighted the financing of about $600 million offered by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICB) and the Bank of China, along with other international institutions, for the construction of the Dos Bocas refinery in the southeastern state of Tabasco.
“This attitude of seeing investments from other sides with good eyes is part of the pragmatic measures that the current government must begin to implement and practice much more aggressively in order to boost long-term economic growth,” he said.
The specialist also warned that Mexico needed to establish intellectual property rules and align its commercial criteria so that it was consistent with the trade relationships it has with its North American partners.