What is your opinion on the Mexican Economy?
The Mexican economy is dynamic, with sound fundamentals and offers many opportunities. Free trade agreements with 44 Countries, a strategic geographical position and a young population make Mexico an excellent business partner, a country where companies can invest and be competitive. Moreover, the Mexican economy has a great potential to grow further, a potential which I believe will be developed even more when the reforms adopted last year will come to fruition.
Which are the most important achievements during your tenure as Italy’s Ambassador to Mexico?
I arrived in Mexico very recently, on the 20th of October 2013, but I have been lucky since in January the President of the Council of Ministers, our Prime Minister, visited Mexico for the first time in many years. The visit was a great success in furthering the excellent political relationship between the two countries. Moreover a tight schedule of follow up activities was announced, and a joint Business Council, comprising leading representatives of the private sector from both countries, held its first meeting.
How do you grade the competitiveness of Mexico for Direct Foreign Investment?
Mexico offers a high level of competitiveness for Foreign Investments. In addition to the factors mentioned above, I would add that Mexico is part of an integrated economic area and that the authorities, at all levels of Government, strive to improve the conditions for attracting DFI. Additionally, Mexico is a member of G20 and OECD, has a competitive labor force and human capital, and offers many industrial parks and technological centers where companies can benefit from territorial synergies and infrastructural facilities. While improvements can always be made, this provides an excellent basis for foreign investors.
What is your plan of action to develop as an Ambassador to strengthen the bilateral relationship between Italy and Mexico?
As I recently arrived in my plan of action for the future there is no shortage of pressing commitments. Following the visit of President Letta, we expect, at the beginning of 2014, a large industrial delegation from Italy headed by a member of Government to explore further areas of economic cooperation and to assist our business community in establishing new contacts in Mexico.
Later in the course of the year a Bi-national Commission is scheduled for a thorough review of the bilateral relationship, and the recently established Business Council should present proposals to grow our economies’ interaction.
Last, but certainly not least, President Pena Nieto has accepted an invitation by President Letta to visit Italy. In addition to this calendar we plan a number of activities; particularly in the area of culture where I believe the potential to do more is also great.
What is the current situation of the diplomatic relationship between Italy and Mexico?
There is a natural empathy between our countries and we share strong historical and cultural links. This provides a good background for our mutual understanding and for a prosperous relationship, basically in all areas. Now we have to work hard to build on this basis with a view to realize concrete achievements for our mutual benefit.
We are both active players on the international scene and we share many values which inspire our actions. We often converge on the position to take in the international fora to face collective global challenges, such as climate change, food security, fight against organized crime and the strengthening of multilateral governance (UN, G20, WTO, etc.).
What is the current situation of the commercial relationship between Italy and Mexico?
Trade between Italy and Mexico has been growing during the last years. Waiting for the final statistics for the year 2013, I would like to underline that in 2012 our bilateral trade amounted to US$ 5.6 billion, composed of US$ 4.6 billion of Italian export to Mexico and US$ 1 billion of Mexican exports to Italy. In this context, Italy is the second European provider (after Germany) to Mexico, the third European trade partner and the ninth trade partner at world level.
Which are the areas of opportunity that you see in terms to strengthen relations between Italy and Mexico?
All areas of our bilateral relationship already benefit from a sound cooperation, but they can be further developed. In the economic relationship I would point out the very concrete possibility to increase the presence, already very significant, of Italian companies in Mexico, which can continue bringing not only the Italian technology and creativity, but also the good practices in terms of Small and Medium Enterprises. At the same time, economic ties could also profit from a higher presence and level of investment of Mexican companies in Italy that, at the moment, is quite low.
Last but not least, our relationship will certainly be strengthened by the participation of Mexico in the Universal Expo 2015 in Milan, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, which will provide an opportunity to showcase achievements in the field of nutrition, a notion to be considered in all its multifaceted implications. The Mexican pavilion has been provided a very prominent location, next to the Italian pavilion.
What is the current situation for bilateral investment between Italy and Mexico?
Italian investments are constantly flowing to the Mexican market. In the last years, Italy has been among the major investors in Mexico. This was due to important investments of preeminent Italian companies (Pirelli, Techint, Fiat-Chrysler, Enel Green Power, Ferrero), but also of many medium and small companies, whose number is constantly growing in Mexico.
However, our common objective should also be to increase the level of Mexican investment in Italy. In this respect, the Italian Government approved the plan “Destinazione Italia”, which provides a fast track for investors with administrative simplification and economic incentives, thus making the Italian market more attractive. This is a unique opportunity for Mexican companies to enter the Italian market.
Which areas of opportunity are being seen by Italian Companies to invest in Mexico?
Italian companies’ cases of excellence are well known worldwide. In Mexico I think that areas such as green technologies, infrastructure, automotive and Oil & Gas would look very promising to Italian companies. We are focusing on these sectors, while obviously not excluding others, in view of the upcoming industrial mission mentioned above.
What is the level of satisfaction of the Italian companies with their operations in Mexico?
The level of satisfaction is high. The Italian Embassy and the Italian Trade Chamber in Mexico have carried out inquiries in 2011 and in 2013. According to the latest results, the general level of satisfaction of Italian companies in Mexico is 7.95 (on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest level) and 70% of the interviewed companies are thinking about increasing their presence in the Mexican market.
Among the main reasons of their satisfaction, the interviewed companies mentioned the good opportunities offered by the Mexican market, the constant growth of the economy and the Made in Italy’s good reputation.
What is your impression of the economic situation of Mexico during the first year of Government under Enrique Peña Nieto?
I think that the Mexican Government is carrying out an important work in promoting well-rounded reforms that will make the Mexican economy grow even more. Of course, in the short term this implies a hard work of political consultations and a fine tuning of the different interests at stake, but I believe that the structural reforms will have a very positive impact on the Country’s economy, especially in the medium and long term.
Any last comment for the MexicoNOW subscribers?
I congratulate the magazine for the high level of economic information provided. Thus, I congratulate also with your subscribers for choosing such an excellent source of information. If you need any further information about Italy, please, do not hesitate to contact the Italian Embassy in Mexico (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or the Italian Trade Agency (at email@example.com).