“Being like-minded nation, sharing common values and priorities for democracy, human rights, rules-based international order and largest trading partner in Latin America, Mexico is poised to become Australia’s strategic partner”, said Mr Eduardo Patricio Pena Haller, Ambassador of Mexico.
In a wide ranging interview with Vibe Media on Tuesday, Ambassador Haller was of the view that Mexico and Australia are partners of choice and in spite of its geographical distance, both countries have developed an intense and fruitful bilateral relation as a result of constant political dialogue, high level visits, flourishing trade and growing people to people exchanges, to name a few.
Mexico and Australia are partners of choice & share common values, Ambassador Eduardo Haller
“I am convinced that Mexico and Australia can continue to work closely with important matters of the international agenda, such as the abolition of death penalty, disarmament, climate change and international migration”, he told Vibe Media sitting in his office, a typical Mexican architecture built 43 years ago.
Australia and Mexico are partners at forums such as the UN, OECD, G20, APEC, and most recently, MIKTA, an informal group which brings together Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia. Mexico is the MIKTA Chair for 2019
Expressing his firm believe to elevate the ties to a strategic level via signing of a comprehensive and/or strategic partnership plan, he argued that it would translate the status of Mexico as the largest trading partner of Australia in Latin America into political sphere, and would pave the way for further initiatives in multiple fields as our relation is strong and is characterised by an honest and constant dialogue.
In recent years, Mexico has consolidated its status as Australia’s largest trading partner in Latin America, with AU$3.4 bn bilateral trade in 2017-18. With AU$3.2 bn Mexican exports, trade balance is quite favorable to Mexico.
A potential FTA between Pacific Alliance & Australia will open new vistas: Mexican Envoy
Similarly, Mexico is most visited country in Latin America by Australian tourists, with over 85 thousand Australians visiting every year. On the otherhand, Australia is quickly becoming a popular destination for Mexican students with over 2,200 Mexican students enrolling every year.
As Mexico is forecasted among the world top 10 economies by 2030, Ambassador Haller said it would provide ample opportunities in terms of trade and investment to both nations.
“Both countries have already ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), furthermore, Australia continues to participate in the negotiation process towards its accession as an observer country to the Pacific Alliance, the bloc of most outward-looking economies in Latin America, comprises Mexico, Chile, Perú and Colombia, and this will lead to a further FTA between our countries”, he added.
Mexican Ambassador said that enormous possibilities of a market as big as Mexico (123.6 million people), with many strategic advantages, such as a privileged strategic location, a young population, facility of access to the North American market and a competitive cost structure, has not gone unnoticed by Australian firms, of which there are close to 200 operating in Mexico in areas such as mining, construction, infrastructure and education, among others.
“As Mexico consolidates itself as one of the largest economies in the next decade or so, this interest will undoubtedly increase. Conversely, the high purchasing power of the Australian market and its growing role in the Asia-Pacific political and economic landscape represent a huge potential for Mexican products and investments, in areas as diverse as manufacturing, health , IT and food and beverages, to name a few”, he elaborated.
About 200 Australian forms are successfully operating in Mexico: Mr Eduardo Haller
The total bilateral trade averaged an increase of 20% compared to the previous year and Mexico alone represents about 40% of the total trade between Australia and all the countries of Latin America.
“I am certain that the entry into force of the CPTPP will further advance this flourishing relation as both economies are actually complementary, a fact that sets us aside from most of the Latin American countries that Australia does business with”, he said.
The Export Council of Australia has referred Mexico as a Gateway to the Americas and has highlighted its status as the “second largest and most interconnected economy on the continent”.
“Since 1994 after signing NAFTA, Mexico has pursued a strategy of economic openness and diversification. As of today, we have one of the largest FTA networks in the world, with 13 FTAs granting us access to 52 countries”, Ambassador Eduardo Haller pointed out adding in 2017 , BHP Billiton was the first foreign enterprise to sign a deal with Mexico’s state-owned oil company (PEMEX), to jointly develop reserves in the Gulf of Mexico in a deal that could bring an estimated AUD 11bn investment to our country.
In 2018, Australia became the third largest source of FDI from the Asia-Pacific region, only behind Japan and South Korea.
Many major Australian companies are fast developing a significant footprint in Mexico across a range of sectors – advanced manufacturing, education, energy, food and agribusiness, health, infrastructure, mining and technology.
Slow visa process is discouraging Mexican tourists to visit Australia, Mexican Ambassador
“For all these reasons, Mexico will continue to be an attractive destination for Australian companies, and an enhanced trade architecture between our countries will reinforce this status”, he remarked.
Ambassador Eduardo Patricio Pena Haller was optimistic for strengthening bilateral relationship in diverse fields especially people to people contacts.
“Increasing connectivity would be a fundamental and trans-formative step between our nations. We are strongly advocating the re-establishment of a direct flight between Mexico and Australia, like the one that Qantas operated until the mid 70’s. This would, no doubt, further enhance trade and tourism opportunities”, he asserted.
Mexican Ambassador complained that slow visa process is discouraging Mexican tourists to visit Australia.
“A more flexible and agile immigration framework between our countries would facilitate people to people and business interactions. Mexican citizens applying for Australian tourist visas, often face long waiting times, which discourage more people from visiting and conducting businesses with Australia”, he emphasized.
Direct flight between Mexico and Australia will promote tourism many folds, Ambassador Eduardo Haller
He also encouraged to increase scientific and technical cooperation as both countries have agreement since 1981.
“With over 110,000 engineers and technicians graduating every year, Mexico has the technical capacity and the resources to become an equal partner with Australia, building upon a common base of interests”, he stressed.
Throwing light on security and defence cooperation, Ambassador Haller since 2014 the Embassy of Mexico has hosted a military and air attaché office, that has worked alongside their Australian counterparts as part of a worldwide strategy to increase our defence cooperation with friends and allies.
“Mexico continues to play a constructive role as an actor with global responsibility, committed to international peace and security and assistance and collaboration of Australia will be fundamental for that effort”, he said.