A NEW ERA

Turkey 2014 | DIPLOMACY & POLITICS | GUEST SPEAKER

Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, on the robustness of Turkish-Mexican relations, and the potential for further trade and investment opportunities.

HE Enrique Peña Nieto
BIOGRAPHY
Enrique Peña Nieto holds a Bachelor’s degree in law from Universidad Panamericana and a Master’s in Business from Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. Early in his career he held a number of positions within the State of Mexico’s government, including Sub-Secretary of the Interior, Administrative Secretary, President of the Directive Council of Social Security, President of the Internal Council of Health, and Vice-President of the National System for Integral Family Development. In 2003 he won election as a State Deputy in his hometown of Atlacomulco. In 2005 he became Governor of the State of Mexico. He was sworn in as President of Mexico on December 1, 2012.

My December 2013 state visit to Turkey, as the first Mexican President ever to do so, marked the beginning of a new era in Turkish-Mexican relations, formalized by the Strategic Alliance for the 21st Century. This institutional framework will allow us to build upon our complementary development trajectories and strengthen our bilateral relations.

One of our primary objectives within the Strategic Alliance for the 21st Century is to increase bilateral trade and investment. While it is true that trade between our countries has increased over recent years, the total amount in 2012 stood at just $785 million. Nonetheless, we are optimistic because the current context of our economies and our vast similarities allow for increased trade and investment. Firstly, our countries are strategically located within their respective regions and are willing to serve as bridges between vast markets. Turkey is a vibrant, fast-growing economy, and Mexico now has an opportunity to benefit from this renewed relationship in order to expand and consolidate its economic presence in the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa.

Similarly, Turkey has a new partner in America. Mexico is endowed with a highly skilled and growing work force and is one of the most open and dynamic economies in the world. We have a strong domestic market and a network of 10 free trade agreements (FTAs) with 45 countries. Furthermore, Mexico's position in the world's value chains makes our country an ideal base of operations to access the North American, Latin American, and Caribbean markets.

To take full advantage of these favorable conditions, Turkey and Mexico have signed important agreements to protect investments, avoid double taxation, launch direct air services, and promote tourism. For instance, ProMexico and Invest in Turkey, as well as Bancomext and Turk Eximbank, have signed instruments to boost reciprocal trade and investment. As a firm believer in free trade, I reason that these innovative agreements will enhance development, promote sustainable growth, and create well-paying jobs in both countries. Furthermore, Mexico is undergoing major structural transformations to become a more competitive nation. In order to unlock our country's full economic potential, my government has signed into law vital reforms to transform the education, telecommunications, finance, and energy sectors. These changes are the result of a major consensus-building agreement among the country's main political parties. Through their implementation, we will promote productivity across sectors and enhance our economic growth. Furthermore, education reform will increase the quality of learning by focusing on teachers' professional development and performance evaluation. Meanwhile, telecommunications reform will expand coverage, reduce consumer prices, and improve the quality of digital services. As for finance-related reform, it will enable financial institutions to grant more loans at more favorable rates; small and medium-sized businesses will have the means to grow and prosper. Fiscal reform will guarantee sound public finances and promote growth by increasing public investment in infrastructure, education, research and development, and welfare services. And finally, energy reform is crucial in increasing our energy security and economic growth, since it allows for greater private investment in the energy sector, while guaranteeing Mexicans' ownership over their vast natural resources.

By allowing more open markets and leveling the playing field, we seek to increase productivity and ensure that companies operating in Mexico have access to strategic inputs. Mexico is also actively pursuing a complementary foreign policy strategy. In this context, I believe that both Turkey and Mexico can continue to play an active role internationally, as members of the G20 and MIKTA. Comprised of Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, Australia, and Mexico, MIKTA can serve as a common platform to exchange opinions, articulate shared policy strategies, and strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations. Through increased cooperation, our emerging economies can play an increasing role in future global growth, as many analysts and investors already foresee. For these reasons, my government will continue working closely with its Turkish counterpart to encourage forward-looking and innovative thinking, and identify areas of collaboration.