In what way will the COVID-19 pandemic impact FDI in Mexico?
I am not an economist, but I am an optimist, and in the end this situation should be a boost for Mexico. That said, we cannot ignore that many businesses will close down, and there will be a great deal of unemployment. Manufacturing is now open, and the financial sector is still working. It is, therefore, only a gear change—we have gone from fifth gear down to first. Some things will probably change in the post-COVID-19 world, though the crisis will not bring the economy to a permanent halt. Mexico saw its first COVID-19 case some three months after Italy and Spain. Fortunately, some say, the government here was quick to declare a full emergency. In this sense, Mexico might have an advantage. As other countries lift their work, consumption, and social interaction restrictions, there will be a rush of economic activity, investment, and spending. That will happen in other countries one or two months before it happens in Mexico, and when the restrictions are lifted, Mexico should thus receive the benefits of the opening abroad. It is not easy to predict the future, but difficult times bring out the best in of humanity, and we will prevail.
What industries does Uhthoff, Gómez Vega & Uhthoff serve the most?
As IP is the core of Uhthoff, Gómez Vega & Uhthoff practice, we have clients from the tech, pharma, leisure, and financial sectors, among others. Not much has changed for Uhthoff, Gómez Vega & Uhthoff with the new administration. For example, our clients in the oil sector will continue to need our assistance to protect their IP in Mexico even if their oil exploration projects in the Gulf of Mexico are cancelled. The same goes for pharmaceutical companies. Moreover, I do not see many changes in the needs of our clients in the telecommunication sector. The government wants to introduce some new regulations, but none of them affect the investment on protection of their IP rights in Mexico. Before the pandemic, the tourism sector was doing well, and many investments were planned in that area. That sector is on hold now, and all the plans are being delayed. For example, the construction of new resorts is on hold. Investors are just delaying decisions while they see how long this crisis will last.
What are some of the biggest changes to Mexico's legal framework over the last year or so?
There have been some changes, but the problem has been the executive actions taken by the president. These have created discomfort, uncertainty, informality, and a lack of legal clarity for businesses and investors. Some of the changes are good, but we will have to wait and see their full effect. The current government has also made some amendments to reforms enacted by former president Enrique Peña Nieto that were originally well received in the international arena. There have been many changes, and this has led to uncertainty. For example, the government cancelled a multibillion-dollar airport project because of corruption, but cancelling it will cost more. The solution was not to cancel the project but to penalize those responsible for corruption.
What are your expansion plans and priorities for the next three to five years?
Uhthoff, Gómez Vega & Uhthoff has started an ambitious project to expand our entertainment law practice. Due to the lockdown, all the streaming companies are making large sums of money. That money will be invested in current—although as of today halted—and new content projects. That is a business opportunity that we are looking into. This is not a new field for us, but we are strengthening our practice in this area by incorporating new, specialized attorneys.