India is a fundamental actor in the construction of democratic societies and an example of economic growth. Mexico is proud of its longstanding tradition as a friend of India and in the 21st century, we are looking forward to accomplishing much more for our partnership. Our relations have always been distinguished by friendliness and cooperation, but I believe there are endless possibilities to benefit from each other.
Take, for example, the position of Mexico in Latin America. India’s involvement with the continent remains a pending matter but, given our 66-year-old friendship, Mexico is a natural gateway for India to dive into one of the most dynamic regions in the world. Latin America is home to a potential market of 525 million people and includes three G-20 economies. It’s an important region for India’s energy security, providing at least 16 per cent of India’s crude oil import. Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil are among the top oil providers to India. As resource-rich countries, Latin America is filled with potential partners for renewable energy projects. The region is undertaking interesting projects like the Pacific Alliance, an integration initiative between Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru. It’s one of the most ambitious agreements of its kind and would constitute the eighth-largest economy and seventh-largest exporting entity worldwide. India is already involved with the Pacific Alliance as an observer.
The Indian private sector is discovering that Mexico is an exciting place to do business. Approximately 60 Indian companies, mainly from the automotive, pharma and IT sectors, have invested in Mexico and have benefited from its position as part of two economic blocs. Mexico is a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) and has agreements with most Latin American countries. Mexico is committed to free trade. We have FTAs with 45 countries and recently joined the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). We are the largest Latin American investor in India, with an influx of almost $1 billion during the last six years, comprising several Mexican companies that have made India their home in sectors such as auto-parts and entertainment.
Mexico and India face similar challenges which can be overcome by learning from each other. India endeavours to become a world-renowned manufacturing hub through its Make in India programme, an effort in which Mexico already has some experience. During the 1970s, the launch of a “Made in Mexico” campaign allowed us to position our country as a competitive manufacturing location. Today, half of all Latin American advanced manufactures are produced in Mexico and our country ranks as the main exporter of flat TV screens and medical devices, the fourth exporter of light vehicles and auto-parts and the sixth supplier to the American industry.
Mexico and India also have a stimulating scientific and technological relationship, dating back to 1975. Through our joint committee on these matters, we are encouraging research that will have important implications for our understanding and advancement of topics such as biotechnology and health, seismology, solar energy and water resources. The implications go beyond research papers, and will surely have repercussions that will benefit our populations’ way of life, our economies and even our security. Additionally, Mexico is mindful of the recent accomplishments of Isro. Since 2014, our space agencies have held a productive dialogue and are beginning to work on disaster management techniques to be used during geological phenomena like cyclones, floods and earthquakes.
In this new era of our partnership, people-to-people contact should be even stronger. I believe in tourism as one of the most powerful tools for building bridges and as an engine of development. Last year, Mexico received more than 52,000 Indian visitors, a 52 per cent increase since 2013, and we want to do even more. Mexico has a great variety of attractions like beaches, colonial cities, natural scenery, cultural diversity and ancient history, and we hope Indians get to see Mexico as a warm country that always receives its visitors with open arms.
During my visit to India, I will have the privilege of meeting Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, with whom I will work to find ways to turn all these possibilities into concrete realities. Since the first visit to Mexico by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961, our relationship has made outstanding progress with each high-level visit. Mexico wants to take our longstanding friendship to the next level and take advantage of the realm of opportunities at our disposal. I am certain the collaboration efforts outlined above are just a sample of what we can do together, and that the future holds very prominent scenarios for both nations.