Euromonitor International was pleased to contribute to the 15th Mexico Business Summit on October 22-24, 2017 in San Luis Potosi. Speakers – including Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico; Carlos Slim Helú, Honorary Chairman of Grupo Carso; José Antonio Meade, Finance Secretary of Mexico; John J. Sullivan, US Deputy Secretary of State; Bart Van Ark, Executive Vice President, Chief Economist and Chief Strategy Officer at The Conference Board; Karl Rove, Former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush – explored Mexico’s options for the future, not only with respect to its relationship with the USA, but also in the context of the forthcoming Mexican presidential election and its strategic priorities in the region and beyond.
I participated in the session “How to maintain consumer demand to support economic growth”. Together with Armando Uriegas, CEO of Nielsen Mexico & Nielsen Ibope Mexico; Enrique Zorrilla, Chairman and CEO of Scotiabank México; and Yael Smadja, CEO of Smadja & Smadja USA, we examined Mexico’s changing consumption patterns; the role of finance, technology and e-commerce in supporting consumer expenditure; and measures to boost middle class purchasing power. In the face of more challenging external conditions, boosting domestic consumption makes a lot of sense because it will make the highly-open Mexican economy more resilient.
Other key themes arising from the summit include:
- In dealing with Trump’s USA, Mexico needs to look beyond the White House and reach out to communities, business leaders, governors and other day-to-day stakeholders whom Washington DC will have to listen to. Mexico should also consider all aspects of its relationship with the USA (including trade, immigration, security and the environment) and leverage them in negotiation with the USA.
- Mexico needs a diversification strategy in terms of the economy, foreign relations and business partners. Without abandoning the USA, Mexico needs to establish strategic alliances with Asia, Canada, Europe and Latin America. However, while China represents a great diversification opportunity, there is growing anxiety among the Mexican business community with regards to intensifying competition from China.
- The need to move the Mexican economy up the value chain – with robust investment, training and education, integration of women into the labour force, innovation, digital transformation and Industry 4.0, all of which can in turn support the formal economy, generate jobs, enhance productivity, and increase incomes in Mexico.
- Corruption and the weak rule of law continue to be Mexico’s most stubborn challenges, although the government has taken steps to fight corruption and improve the regulatory environment. In 2016, Mexico ranked 134th (out of 214 countries) in the World Bank Rule of Law Index.
- Mexico is facing a time of uncertainties both at home and abroad. Whoever is elected as the next President of Mexico in 2018 will be facing strong opposition. Abroad, Mexico is facing acute nationalism that hinders its diplomatic and commercial relationships with other nations. The next President will need to establish clear objectives and long-term action plans that transcend their own political party in order to bring the country together.