Xi: Strengthen trade links with Mexico

Updated: 2013-06-07 02:16

By ZHU ZHE in Mexico City, ZHANG YUWEI in New York and CHEN WEIHUA in Washington (China Daily)

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President calls for more bilateral cooperation between enterprises

Chinese and Mexican enterprises should foster new growth engines in areas such as energy, mining, infrastructure and high-tech, as the two countries are committed to building closer and stronger economic ties, President Xi Jinping said in a speech to business leaders in Mexico City.

Xi: Strengthen trade links with Mexico

President Xi Jinping receives the key to the city as a gift from Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera in the Mexican capital on Wednesday. Photo by Christian Palma / Associated Press

Xi, who is paying a state visit to Mexico, told about 400 Chinese and Mexican business leaders on Wednesday that the countries are at an important stage of development and that they are complementary in many areas, including resources, technology, capital and market.

The two countries elevated their relationship to an overall strategic partnership on Tuesday.

Xi: Strengthen trade links with Mexico 
"China is willing to work alongside Mexico to improve the strategic association between the two countries," Xi said.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said China is an important partner of his country and called for more Chinese investment.

Pena Nieto also stressed the importance of a trade balance between the two countries.

Andrew Selee, vice-president for programs at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, said Latin American countries, including active players like Mexico, have "instrumental and symbolic reasons" for reaching out to China.

"They want to explore trading opportunities, and they recognize China’s rise as a geopolitical player far beyond Asia," Selee said.

"Several countries in South America have developed active commercial relations with China, but there is also a growing interest from the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico in exploring greater exchanges with China and its rapidly growing market for imports," he said.

Zhu Zhiqun, a professor of political science and international relations at Bucknell University, said "China must become more sensitive to local circumstances" for closer ties with Mexico.

"To win the hearts and minds of these countries, China needs to pay more attention to developing strong ties with the private sector, NGOs and the civil society of these countries, in addition to promoting cooperation with these governments," Zhu said.

In a speech at the Mexican Senate on the same day, Xi said the Sino-Mexican relationship stands before "unprecedented opportunities".

China does not seek a trade surplus and vowed to stick to an open policy to increase its imports of Mexican products, especially high-value-added goods, he said.

Xi also called on the two countries to oppose protectionism and try to resolve trade disagreements through consultation.

Xi said Latin America has again entered a period of strong development. "We believe the more that Latin America develops, the better it is for the world and for China."

In the next five years, China will import more than $10 trillion of goods, while investing an estimated $500 billion overseas.

"This will bring more business opportunities to the world, including all nations in Latin America and the Caribbean," Xi said.

Xi compared the long friendship between China and Mexico to a bottle of aged tequila. It "has improved from one generation to another, bringing an ever-fresher fragrance over the passage of time", he said.

Liu Zongyi, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said that despite competition in the manufacturing sector, China and Mexico have maintained strong cooperation in the international arena.

"Now with growing competitiveness, Mexico has increasingly seen the opportunity in participating in the Chinese market and the benefits of strengthening their relations," Liu said.

Jorge Heine, a fellow with the Canada-based Center for International Governance Innovation, said a key challenge for Mexico is diversifying its export basket to China.

Mexico already exports cars, in addition to oil. If it were able to move into other high-end consumer products, it would be a move in the right direction, he said.

"China, on the other hand, should invest more in Mexico, as the number of Chinese companies there is still quite small," Heine added.

Xi arrived in Mexico on Tuesday for a three-day visit after visiting Trinidad and Tobago and Costa Rica. He will head to the United States for a two-day summit with US President Barack Obama at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, California, on Friday.