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Mexico/Franco-Mexican Economic Forum

Published on July 17, 2015
Speech by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (excerpts)

Paris, July 16, 2015



As [MEDEF] President [Pierre] Gattaz has excellently recalled, the foundations of our economic relationship are solid. Mexico and France are complementary in economic terms and our trade has increased by an average of 16% a year over the past five years, reaching more than €4 billion in 2014. This tendency increased in the first months of 2015, and in the sectors which are experiencing particular dynamism: it’s not an exhaustive list, but I’d mention energy, aerospace, health and agrifoods, as shown by the closer ties between Pemex and Total – whose CEO is here – and the decision by Sanofi Pasteur and Birmex to increase production of the flu vaccine.

Thanks to this dynamic, Mexico’s share of total French trade with Latin America has increased spectacularly: last year, Mexico accounted for more than 20% of our trade with the continent, compared to 14% in 2010. This momentum is going to continue thanks to the structural reforms you’ve begun, Mr President, particularly in energy and telecommunications, whose goal is to boost the
Mexican economy and provide opportunities for new cooperation which our businesses are ready to grasp. The updating of the 1997 free trade agreement between the European Union and Mexico, which France strongly supports, will contribute to this momentum.

If we want to go even further – and we want to –, we can count in particular on the support of the Franco-Mexican Strategic Council (CSFM) established by our two presidents, which will be meeting this afternoon at the Elysée Palace. This Strategic Council has worked hard over the last two years, and I want to congratulate its members and presidents because, in the areas of aerospace, energy, security and defence, tourism and sustainable cities, some really outstanding work has been done.

So the development of our economic exchanges is very positive, but – because there is a “but” – we can and must do even better, by further exploiting the growth reserves in our relationship. For my part, I see five.


Firstly, we must give our strategic partnership even more concrete shape through flagship industrial and technological cooperation projects: I’m thinking of security and defence equipment, space, nuclear energy and telecommunications – in particular the Internet and cyber security, but also the digital industry: for example, supercalculators and Big Data. Between two major countries which are friends and which are committed to their strategic and technological autonomy, the potential for cooperation is huge. And let’s acknowledge that on this level – and I’ve learnt to put it in the Quai d’Orsay’s own language – there’s still room for progress.


Secondly, we must take up the challenge of innovation, through our innovative SMEs and mid-caps, which – let’s be very clear on this, too – don’t yet do enough business with each other. In this regard, I’m delighted with the signature, in a few minutes’ time, of a cooperation [agreement] between Business France and its Mexican counterpart, ProMexico. Thanks to the partnerships that are going to be started between BPI-France [French Public Investment Bank] and public and private players in the financing of innovation in Mexico, we’ll have a full raft of instruments benefiting innovative SMEs in our two countries. Concurrently, we’re striving to link innovation, research and vocational training, for example recently with the first Franco-Mexican health conference and plans to create technology training centres in Mexico.


Thirdly, green growth. We’re drawing closer to COP21, and I want to thank you, Mr President, for what you said yesterday when you confirmed that France was side by side with Mexico and Mexico side by side with France for the preparation of COP21. Mexico is very committed on these issues; you’re one of the first countries to have published your INDC [Intended Nationally Determined Contribution]. The fight against climate disruption is an imperative but also an opportunity for growth that Mexican and French businesses must grasp together. You have great expertise; we aren’t lacking in it ourselves when it comes to water, urban transport, energy and sustainable cities. And so we’ve got to work together, and the Campeche pilot project, which is benefiting from the support of both countries, is extremely interesting from that point of view.


Fourthly, another sector where our two countries have, as the economists say, a huge comparative advantage is tourism. As you know, we’re modest, like you, and so we can say in all modesty that Mexico and France are two of the most beautiful countries in the world… Cooperation is developing with the forthcoming introduction of a “working holiday visa”. Air links also need to support the growing flow of travellers. In this respect, the Mexican authorities’ agreement for the Paris-Mexico Air France A380 service from the end of 2015 is excellent news.


Lastly, a final word about cross-investment, which isn’t at the level it could be. For French investment, things are moving in the right direction with 550 French businesses set up in Mexico, employing 110,000 people there. Going the other way, we think – I know this is your view as well – we can do a lot better: only three Mexican companies have set up in France – Cemex, Sigma and Mexichem. So we’ve got to attract more Mexican investors, which partly depends on us but it’s also in the interest of our Mexican colleagues and friends. It’s up to us to present them with concrete investment opportunities. With this in mind, the decision has been taken to establish soon within the Business France agency in Mexico a team dedicated to promoting France as a destination to Mexican investors. I invite our Mexican friends to look very practically at the investment opportunities in France. We shall support them in their task of prospecting and carrying out investment. (…)./.

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