Roberto Spinelli – Italy Ambassador to Mexico

How successful has the Free Trade Agreement signed between Mexico and the European Union been in terms of increased Italian investment in Mexico?

The Free Trade Agreement has produced multiple increases in the commercial flows between both countries. It has been a productive agreement that has allowed Mexico to diversify its economy. Practically speaking, only 10% of the exports from Mexico are going to any other place than the NAFTA market. This is an instrument for Mexico to expand their economic relations in other places and stop a possible over-dependency on their NAFTA markets. This has been very important in terms of strengthening bilateral relations.

What is the satisfaction level of Italian companies with their operations in Mexico?

It has been a very high level of satisfaction. All my contacts with the Italians who have invested in Mexico have all giving me positive comments. Just recently I visited Queretaro. I had the opportunity to chat with some of our investors located there who have obtained magnificent results in their respective operations and they feel very pleased. This is not only happening in Queretaro but all across Mexico where Italy has a presence. Many Italian companies in Mexico are planning to expand their operations over the short term.

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

It will definitely grow. There will be new investment of companies such as Pirelli which will conclude an investment of US$250 million in order to produce 3.5 million tires a year. Fiat is expecting to invest about US$500 million in the following years to produce cars for the U.S. as well as Latin American markets. Italy has also shown interest in investing in renewable energies. This is where Mexico has a lot of potential.

Are there specific sectors targeted by Italian companies?

There will be many important investments in the Automotive Industry. To mention some of the companies investing in the next few months are Fiat, Pirelli and other companies that will increase their presence in Mexico. Also a stronger production of automotive plastic products and brakes will be seen by Italian companies in Mexico. The Agro-alimentary sector will have a stronger Italian presence. This is where Italy has had a good history of specialization. Fashion and design is another industry where Italian companies have invested and will keep investing with the opening of more Salvatore Ferragamo and Giorgio Armani stores. Italy also has a strong presence in the production of machinery and equipment. In this industry we can also expect a stronger Italian presence in Mexico.

What is the opinion of the Italian automotive companies regarding the recovery of this sector in Mexico?

We have seen better results in the automotive industry in Mexico lately than the ones seen before the crisis. Our production trends have increased and so have our exports. This is a sector that has many other fields of opportunity, and has had a multiplier effect everywhere in the industry and its supply chain.

Which conditions are needed in Mexico to increase Italian investments?

Mexico needs to work on the image of the country. The Mexican authorities have to improve their role via the Mexican embassies and their Ministry of the Economy around the world. This needs to be done so all the exciting things about Mexico can more readily be seen. When I speak to possible Italian investors, they don’t know the exact potential featured by this nation. Everyone who doesn’t know anything about Mexico often has a different and many times erroneous perception of the country.

What is the future of bilateral relations between Italy and Mexico?

It will keep progressing at an excellent level, politically and economically speaking. We both share the same position in diverse bilateral fields of interest such as climate change, the United Nations and the fight against crime. We will both continue driving along a common front in battles on diverse issues. Economically, we feature a great relationship. I believe we can do better in terms of investment and commerce, mainly from the Mexico to Italy side. In the scientific and cultural fields we also enjoy good relations as well as in justice and security issues.

Any last comment for the MexicoNOW subscribers?

I want to salute and send my greetings to the MexicoNOW subscribers as well as contributors to this publication in order to provide more information about our exciting bilateral relationship.