JOSÉ CARRAL

Mexico 2022 | ECONOMY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to José Carral, President of Club de Industriales, about the role of the organisation, recovery in the post-pandemic period, and Chinese investment in Mexico.

What role does Club de Industriales play within the economy?

The Club de Industriales was founded 65 years ago and has currently 1,580 members. Almost 80% of its associates have personal ties with the United States and other countries and regularly hosts meetings, working breakfasts and lunches, as well as private events, corporate gatherings, etc. Among its prominent international members, the Club is proud to be headquarters of Mexico's major Chambers of Commerce and, although its main activities take place in Mexico City, it accepts members from all over Mexico, Europe, and the US. We have recently closed a deal with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, of which I am the founding vice president. This international scope implies a great responsibility for us across all aspects, especially in terms of health and safety. Nowadays , events are ready to be held, a welcome return to business activities.

What is the country's economic outlook with respect to the public and private sector initiatives undertaken to boost recovery?

There are no public sector initiatives likely to boost investment and growth, except in a localized fashion and thanks to ill begotten projects like the Tren Maya and the Dos Bocas Refinery. Thanks to the USMCA, we will have an overall strong recovery of around 5% annual growth, even though the government has all but stopped public investment and frightened foreign investment. That is, although domestic consumption has lagged, we remain strong exporters to the US and Canada. Next year, growth is anticipated to be around 2 to 2.5% with services beginning to recover as well as manufacturing and agricultural exports. Mexico sets a global example in effort, diversification, and quality. We often do not realize the impact of Mexico's fruits and vegetable exports on the world. However, in terms of the environment, we have not made the effort needed to conserve green areas and protect water in Mexico. Unfortunately, in terms of education, a wrong policy was chosen, which will set us back a long way in terms of the development and growth of higher education in Mexico. The private sector must strengthen its investment and participation in education. We need universities in the southeast of Mexico. We would like to have two or three universities across Chiapas and Oaxaca so that we may have the opportunity to train poor Mexicans in high quality jobs.

What are some of the biggest projects that the club is taking on this year?

Like most institutions, the Club has had to limit its activities and it is only starting to organize events and host business lunches. Our members are slowly returning, and we expect to see a full recovery once the city government decrees a green flag and a return to a post pandemic normalcy. The Club itself is not involved in business activities besides its culinary and social purposes. However, given our exposure in the business community, it has promoted and offers its support to a few philanthropic organizations, among which I would highlight the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the German Chamber of Commerce, Mares de México and the Mexican Gastronomic Academy.

What trends has Club de Industriales seen in the investments being made by China in Mexico?

The Club is actively promoting the establishment of the China-Mexico Chamber of Commerce expecting to provide Mexican investors market intelligence to take advantage of opportunities arising in China and vice-versa, it will also strive to facilitate Chinese interests in Mexico, given the recent trend in North America of sourcing a larger share of its trade within its geographical space.

What is an area of opportunity for Mexico currently?

Mexico´s consolidation as trade partner with the United States and Canada draws interest from foreign investors. We have a partnership with the Hong Kong ambassador in Mexico to offer our assistance and financing for the development of the southeast of Mexico. The National Fund for Tourism Development (FONATUR) currently does not have the representation, budget, or workforce needed to develop the southeast. To develop one-third of this country, another concept is needed. Instead of FONATUR, the National Commission for the Development of the Southeast should manage the process and then report to FONATUR. However, despite the underdevelopment of the southeast, it is the richest area of the country. The three great rivers originate there. The uranium mines, highly significant in Chihuahua and Oaxaca, are also found there. There is no communication between the private and public sectors. The private sector aims to bring in money and investment, but the public sector has closed the doors to it. The private sector is developing its own projects, such as Invest Monterrey, to replace ProMéxico.

What other areas of development are there? How have developments in e-commerce and technology taken place?

Again, due to the strong economic links with our partners in North America, Mexico has become a powerhouse in the automotive, aeronautical, and information technology sectors. The Club is optimistic that, notwithstanding the governments inaction and enmity towards private ventures, the country will maintain its preeminence in those sectors and with a reversal in Congress, recover its trend towards opening the energy sector, confirm the educational reform and embark on further integration with its trade partners. The US will undoubtedly remain a global power due to its technological and innovative prowess, and Mexico is well positioned to take advantage of its geographical location. Finally, it is important to recognize who were Mexico's most important leaders, for it is them that inspire our actions:

• Eugenio Garza Sada, who brought in and shaped the steel, beer, glass, plastics, and urban development industries. He also did so for the polytechnic industry, approaching universities offering the best education to Mexican students. He also offered workers the first housing and healthcare guaranties in the history of Mexico. He founded the “Tecnológico de Monterrey”

• Manuel Senderos who was a pioneer and developer of the automobile industry, insurance, banking, tourism, and also founder of one of the most important private universities in Mexico which is the “Universidad Iberoamericana”.

• Raul Bailleres. From the very beginning of the mining development in the country, Mexico recognizes that in the latest century and up to now, Mr. Raul Bailleres and his sons took leadership in the exportation of silver and gold and at the same time they also started one of the most important universities in Mexico “Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México – ITAM”