Patricia Vaca – Argentina Ambassador to Mexico

What is your plan of action to develop and strengthen the bilateral relationship between Argentina and Mexico?

Since the time that our President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner honored me with the designation as Ambassador to this lovely country I have been dedicated to the work involved in strengthening even more the ties existing between Mexico and Argentina. These ties are not only at the governmental level, where we have a good, solid relationship, but also between the people of our two countries via cultural, academic, scientific and other activities.

What is your opinion on the bilateral relationship between Mexico and Argentina?

Our Countries have had a relationship of closeness and mutual support that, by different circumstances, was diluted at some point. But since 2003 until today, bilateral relations have been strengthened to the point of finalizing the signing of the Strategic Association Agreement. This has now been signed by former President Nestor Kirchner and President Calderon.

For me, this agreement represents an important challenge in terms of integration. Following my appointment, we have been working to strengthen different areas in the agreement. We want to give substance and meaning to the advancement of brotherhood between our people. A proof of this is that one of the only state visits that our President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will make this year, will be to Mexico very soon.

The visit constitutes the foundation of a new dynamic and restrengthened bilateral relationship. The relationship that we aspire to is constituted on a base that focuses qualitatively different where the synergy of our two economies complement each other and together become the main engine for progress.

How has the Strategic Association Agreement signed between Mexico and Argentina helped strengthen the relationship between the two countries?

We are working together on the Strategic Association Agreement signed in 2007. We want it to provide more content, with a positive agenda as a base that will allow us to advance in a concrete manner. Based within this kind of framework we can subscribe to an important set of agreements regarding strategic sectors for our countries that need to be made. This set of sectors includes the biotech, nanotech and agro-machinery industries.

Argentina and Mexico continue to maintain very good relations, but we want to go further. We want to have more Argentina in Mexico. We would like to recover those bonds that we have had historically.

Our President has the determination to revitalize political and cultural bonds with Mexico. She wants to have more dynamism in the bilateral economic relationship by going deeper into an exchange based on what is mutually beneficial.

And she is looking for reciprocity, in effect, in order to advance toward more concrete, functional scenarios of integration and cooperation in the mid and short term, Argentina sees Mexico as a strategic partner. Together we are the principal axis of a bilateral relationship that everyday makes an important contribution to the construction of a more united Latin America.

Argentina wants Mexico to look more to the south and work to realize a greater impact in its commercial exchange with MERCOSUR. This needs to be done in order to balance power in Latin America by taking advantage of our economic “complementarities” and the exciting potential of our developing markets.

In this context, quoting Alfonso Reyes, “Mexico and Argentina are two arms, the North and the South, that embrace Latin America. When our bilateral relations are well, when Mexico and Argentina embrace, then the whole of Latin America is benefited.”

What is the current status of the bilateral economic relationship between the two countries?

In regard to our bilateral economic relationship, the economic growth experienced by both countries in 2010 has contributed to the commercial dynamism of both markets. Bilateral commerce increased 390% from 2000 to 2010 reaching US$2.863 million just last year. The annual growth rate of our exports from Argentina to Mexico, as well as the one from Mexico to our Countr also increased, but balanced during the last decade to the order of 16% and 18% annually, respectively.

On the topic of investments, it’s important to point out that Mexican direct investment to Argentina has reached US$3.3 billion. Another fact is that Argentina has become the second largest investor from Latin America in Mexico. This has been accomplished with an accumulated investment of US$652 million. In the midterm, if things work out as expected, this figure could increase in a considerably way with important investment projects still to be done.

What is your outlook for Argentinean trade and investment in Mexico?

Argentina is today a strategic destiny for Mexican investment. In a context of sustained development, Argentina offers opportunities for productive input to supply present and future needs for Argentina’s internal, regional and global markets. As a founding member of MERCOSUR, Argentina has privileged access to a market of US$2.1 billion and there are an estimated 270 million cost competitive consumers.

In the global context, Argentina features capacities and resources that satisfy the international market demand. We have a diversified, high quality base of alimentary products, in addition to excellent human resources. We are a homeland with privileged natural resources and opportunities for the development of clean and renewable energy. Also, we can point to an experienced industry with aggregated value. All this is found in Argentina.

The internationalization of Argentinean companies in Mexico is also an opportunity to strengthen the bonds between both countries. We have to emphasize that there are sectors, such as the pharmaceutical, biotech, nanotech, software and renewable energies among others, that have been developing new investments in Mexico. This initiative is being led by Argentinean firms that are recognized worldwide.

What are the results of the recent Multi-sectorial Commercial Mission made by the Argentinean delegation in Mexico?

This has been the largest Mission from Argentina to Mexico yet. It took place with the participation of over 170 Argentinean companies and representatives from many diverse sectors. The objective of the mission was to strengthen existing bonds wherever possible, explore and develop new perspectives for all kinds of business. This was carried out by the associations for strategic entitlement and resulted in joint actions for development of third world markets. This Commercial Mission has been the second most important one organized by the Argentinean Chancellery ever.

Also, a Multisectorial Investment Mission was implemented where 41 investment projects were presented in the agribusiness, software and IT services, cultural industries, infrastructure and renewable energies sectors. Together a net worth was estimated to have a value of over US$5 billion. On the Argentinean side a capital of US$2.2 billion was provided and the remainder will be made by the creation of a strategic association and joint ventures.

As a result of this work the following Argentinean investment project announcements were made:

  • Lubritech Argentina S.R.L: a subsidiary of the Mexican Group Sicelub. Lubritech announced the investment in Argentina of over US$12 million. This will generate 55 jobs with the objective of expanding their presence in Argentina. The effort is focused on technologies and lubrication services for industrial machinery in the oil, gas, mining, steel, cement and food sectors.
  • Carnot-Techsphere: this is one of the main players with Mexican capital. They announced the expansion of their investments in Argentina by US$4.7 million and jobs will be generated for 44 new employees. They consider the construction of an ophthalmologic plant and another for oncological products.
  • Grupo Vidanta (Mayan Resorts): in meetings between the Ministry of Mexican Tourism and the Argentina Chancellery, one of the important tourism groups announcing their decision to invest in Argentina. This will be for the construction of the first 6 Star Hotel in Latin America. The estimated investment is for US$100 million in Buenos Aires.

Besides all of these announcements, the manifesto for the high potential investment was well made. Included were four Mexican industrial paint companies; agribusiness; software and hardware also maintained their solid interest in exploring a possible short term investments in Argentina.

On the other side, in the framework of the Seminar “Opportunities of Business, Commerce and Investments between Argentina and Mexico”, held on the 15th of April, the Minister of Federal Planning, Public Investments and Services, Julio De Vido, made the announcement that the Mexican entrepreneur Carlos Slim will make a historic US$1.5 billion investment in two years in the telecommunications sector. De Vido also announced the investment of US$850 million in Mexican capital in the mining sector.

In regard to the manner of investment, the bilateral relationship has an important growth potential facing ahead. This is based on the strength of the macroeconomics, how well the human resources are qualified and the availability of natural resources in both countries.

Accordingly, with the appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship, Hector Timerman at the closure of the seminar, he stressed the importance of the Strategic Association existing between the two countries. Timerman emphasized how this has allowed a great leap forward in bilateral bonds as reflected in the historical record estimated to have a commercial value passing the US$3 billion mark in 2010.

What results do you expect in the near future from the visit of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to Mexico?

I am certain that the next Presidential visit will consolidate the re-launching of the bilateral relationship with a strong commercial economic future. It is one that promises to increase to a large degree the exchange between the two countries. Of course, progress will be based on the so-called “complementarity”, mentioned earlier. And, reciprocity is the other important dynamic as one of the main supports in this strategic association between Argentina and Mexico.