Mexico is one of the greatest friends of Serbia, and the Mexicans are heading for Presidential, local and Congress election in July, which is a very important step for the country, faced with emerging economies’ challenges, Trump’s threats to renegotiate NAFTA and the repercussions of global economic crisis which are still somewhat visible everywhere. We are talking to H. E. Marco Antonio García Blanco, Ambassador of Mexico to Serbia and non-resident Ambassador to Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia about the burning issues.
Mexico is one of the biggest economies in the world and belongs to the G20. What are the/its perspectives?
Like every country, Mexico faces multiple challenges on development matters. Of course, we need to improve in different areas, but also we have strengths. At the moment, Mexico is the 15th largest economy worldwide, and the 10th most populated country with 130 million inhabitants and it’s the 6th most visited touristic destination in the world, with 39.3 million international visitors in 2017. In the first 5 years of President Enrique Peña Nieto administration, Mexico has received 171 billion dollars of foreign direct investment, equivalent to 34.2 billion dollars per year, which proves the interest and trust that investors have in my country.
Mexico is a friendly country, peaceful and without political nor territorial ambitions. Our political philosophy is based on the motto that says “Among nations and among individuals, the respect for the rights of others is peace”. For this reason, we recognize the importance of respectful coexistence that generates security, welfare and prosperity for all. Mexico also has deep and ancient cultural roots that unite us as a nation and we are projected to the world with a unique identity. We also share democratic values and believe in the benefits of the rule of law, individual rights, due process and the primacy of the law. Likewise, we are convinced that no one should be above the law, as well as the relevance of transparency and accountability. We cultivate respect for cultural diversity and pluralism. We share the values of free enterprise that generates growth, welfare, employment and development, but we also believe in the importance of a State that regulates, promotes and ensures the rule of law.
The 1st of July of 2018 Mexicans will have the biggest electoral process in our history, in which we will chose our President for the next 6 years, renew Congress and multiple representatives on the federal, state, and local levels. Whatever the outcome of the elections, Mexicans will continue to work democratically for an inclusive and sustainable development.
Donald Trump hasn’t been nice to Mexico and Mexicans, in particular during his presidential campaign. What comments do you have in this regard?
Mexico and the United States, as neighbours, have constructed a wide bilateral agenda that includes multiple shared interests. This agenda has been successful because it has allowed us to face together, through dialogue and cooperation, a variety of challenges. Of course, there are sensible topics like migration and organized crime, on which we cooperate as well. As a matter of fact, we have several high level institutional mechanisms supported through multiple meetings to face our mutual challenges.
President Trump introduced a new approach to the relationship between the US, not only with Mexico, but with the whole world. My country seeks long-term relationships that lead to stability, predictability and mutual benefits. We prefer bridges over walls. We promote constructive, respectful and good faith relationships. We prefer bilateral schemes in which both parties win, than those that only look for winners or losers.
We trust that the deep interests that both countries share –democratic values and the fact that Mexico is the third biggest commercial partner to the US, among others-, will allow both parties to continue developing, with responsibility, and a common agenda of success.
What is the balance of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)?
The balance is overwhelmingly positive, since it allowed us to transform our productive and export chains. Before NAFTA, 80% of Mexico´s exports were oil and today these only represent 13%, therefore the remaining 87% are goods and services. NAFTA created one of the biggest and most important areas of free trade in the world, with 482 million inhabitants that generate 28% of the world´s GDP and exchanges 16% of the global trade. This translated into more and better jobs.
Today, Mexico is one of the 15 economies with a GDP that surpasses a trillion dollars and is the major exporter in Latin America and, to mention an example, it’s the 4th largest exporter of new vehicles. Each year 75,000 engineers graduate from Mexico’s Universities. Mexico is an agro-exporting power and has a wide array of free trade agreements that gives us preferential access to more than 1.2 billion customers.
Mexico firmly believes on the importance of free trade as a tool for development. In this context, we participate actively on the Alliance of the Pacific and recently concluded negotiations on a new global trade pact with the European Union which includes political, economic and cooperation aspects that will strengthen the political dialogue, increase economic and investment flows and increase technical and scientific cooperation for mutual benefit. Likewise, some weeks ago Mexico ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and is negotiating with Canada and the United States the modernization of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
What is the state of the bilateral relation between Mexico and Serbia?
Everything evolves and is perfectible, and Mexico promotes the principle of shared responsibility on its bilateral relations, which means that both parties are responsible for the progress of the relationship. With Serbia we have and excellent political dialogue, institutionalized through a Mechanism of Political Consultations for Topics of Mutual Interest with periodical meetings, as well as multiple high level encounters in forums and international events. Mexico, in accordance to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999), respects the territorial integrity of Serbia and does not recognize the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo. Mexico and Serbia share multiple positions in the multilateral scheme. We are renewing and broadening the legal framework that regulates and promotes the bilateral relation, which in 2016 reached 70 years. Mexico has a constant cultural presence in Serbia. For example, it is worth to remind that during the last year and a half 8 books by renowned Mexican authors have been translated into Serbian and multiple exhibitions, concerts and cinema cycles have been presented not only in Belgrade, but as well in the interior of the country. The educative, technical and scientific exchanges are areas where exchange should be increased. The bilateral trade, even though incipient, grew 19% during 2017 compared to 2016 and 1,048.5% compared to 2010, but both parties still need to work to reach levels of exchange and investment matching our bilateral opportunities.
As well, let me mention that the Embassy of Mexico in Serbia is concurrent for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro. There is still a lot of work to do, but just in the last 18 months Mexico has signed the first 10 bilateral instruments with these countries. Comparing this with 2016, on 2017 trade between Mexico and Bosnia and Herzegovina increased 21.64%; 200% with Macedonia and 18.88% with Montenegro. The cooperation and educative exchanges are being broadened.
MUTUAL LIKE BETWEEN OUR COUNTRIES
How do you feel in Serbia? What are your impressions during your stay as Ambassador?
My impressions are excellent, I feel grateful and honoured to have the privilege to represent Mexico in Serbia. By the end of June I will reach two years since my arrival in Belgrade and to my wife and son, as well as myself, it has been a wonderful stay. There is a mutual sympathy between Mexico and Serbia; a sympathy that makes my work as an ambassador easier, plus I have always found receptivity and a will to continue strengthening the links between our two countries. The country has a particular beauty, we enjoy its food and appreciate the hospitality of its people.