Susanne Rumohr Hækkerup – Denmark Ambassador to Mexico
As an ambassador what is your plan of action this year for development in terms of strengthening the bilateral relationship between Denmark and Mexico?
This is a very special year both for Denmark and Mexico, because Denmark will host the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first six months of the year and Mexico hosts the Presidency of the G20. So this means that our bilateral relationship will be very much influenced by these two presidencies. There will be ministries from Denmark coming to Mexico in connection with the G20 Meetings that Mexico plans to host in Mexico City and in other states in the country.
So this is one of the most important things and we also have very close cooperation in energy because Denmark held the Presidency of the COP 16 in Copenhagen in 2009. And then Mexico did the same in Cancun in 2010. We have had a very close relationship because these two were occasions when we really helped each other as much as possible. Also, Denmark has some things to offer in connection with renewable energy and energy savings and we want to work closely with Mexico. We expect that a delegation will be coming to Mexico in April headed by our Ministry of Commission Relations and Investment.
What is the current situation of the diplomatic relationship between Denmark and Mexico?
I would say we have very good relations because we cooperate bilaterally and we can also cooperate in the other forums like the United Nations and Human Rights and this is why we have a strong coordinated effort in other areas like climate change.
How has the commerce between Mexico and Denmark evolved in the past five years?
We have had a steady platform in Mexico, I would say, in our trade relationship and it has been starting to increase. As we can document the trade between Denmark and Mexico has increased more than 200% in the last decade. In October 2011 we had a small decrease in trade but on this specific occasion we definitely thought that the commercial relations would increase and it did. It happened in part because of the financial crisis that occurred in 2009, but since then we have been gaining ground rapidly.
What is the role that Mexico plays for danish investment in order to cover the south and central american markets, as well as provide a platform for North America?
For us, in Mexico there is a distinction whether it is for relations with countries in South and Central America as well as within the NAFTA boundaries. I can say that concerning this latest one we had a very successful seminar back in Denmark last year with the collaboration of ProMexico and my colleague Martha Barcena who is Mexico’s Ambassador to Denmark.
They promoted the possibilities for Danish enterprises who could choose Mexico to increase their presence to exchange with the other NAFTA partners. And we have some other very good examples of Danish enterprises already operating in Mexico. All along they have been very successfully using Mexico as a kind of platform for cooperating in business along with The U.S. and Canada.
Concerning the relations of Mexico with Central and South America we have quite a few companies that cover these areas with their offices in Mexico. We as an Embassy also work building commercial relationships with countries in Central America. We do this out of our office in Mexico City.
How has the danish investment in mexico evolved?
Danish investment is also very well developed because Denmark registers as number five of all the European Union countries with investments in Mexico. It is also important because in terms of population from these same countries, it is 17th. So that means that Mexico is really a very close partner for Denmark. During this century Danish companies have invested a considerable sum of money in Mexico. The total estimated number is around US$1.56 Billion and in 2011 we invested more than US$117 million in Mexico. As you can see that is a very dramatic increase. We have a very important list of 189 companies registered in Mexico and compared to Denmark in size that is almost all of the larger companies with a presence in Mexico.
What is the level of satisfaction for danish companies with operations in Mexico?
They are in general not only satisfied, but very satisfied. Those who have presence here say that things may take some time to get up and running, but once they have everything in place here they are very satisfied with the cooperation between their partners and the authorities. Of course from some of them we hear, from time to time, some concerns about security issues.
What is your outlook for danish trade and investment in Mexico for 2012?
We have some important investments coming up because the Danish company Mærsk will intensify investment in the Port of Lazaro Cardenas. This is because this important port on the Paci fic will be enlarged. The Danish company Mærsk, it should be pointed out, plans to invest more than US$900 million in Lazaro Cardenas during the next two years.
We also have a company that is producing toys and it is called Lego. I think most Mexicans will have encountered this brand of fantastic toys. There is a very large Lego factory in Monterrey and they are expanding almost every year. Lego is the number three toy producer in the world. This is really something for both Denmark and Mexico because more than half of the Lego products will be produced in Mexico. The production in Monterrey will be for the whole world.
Will the elections for president in Mexico affect the commercial relationship between the two countries?
That of course will depend on which policy the new President carries out. What we see now is a continuation of a stable economic growth in Mexico and also Mexico will have an economy that continues to welcome foreign investment and this will increase their overall trade relations. So for the time being the Danish business community in Mexico does not expect any radical changes from this.
Are there other specific sectors targeted by danish companies?
We have some special global advances and they will be in the health care area where we have a huge pharmaceutical industry. As you know we also have many Danish pharmaceutical products in Mexico.
Another will be in the oil and gas sector. This is where Denmark has something to offer in new technologies and we will be cooperating with PEMEX regarding how to introduce new ways of doing things in Mexico and how to use all the resources that you can in order to utilize them more efficiently and improve energy savings. And then there will be an effort in the renewable energies arena. This is a sector where we have made great progress globally.
What are the most important benefits that you have seen in denmark and mexico after cop 16?
We think it was very important. It became possible in Cancun, for instance, to reach agreements on a global level in a way that allowed us to move ahead and create the Green Funds for financing climate issues in Developing Countries.
In addition, it was very important that the global community demonstrated the will to move ahead to get results. The reason for us was that we very much wanted to act in a way that was legally binding globally in order to take action. Plus, it was essential that the Mexican Presidency in Cancun was able to reach agreements that facilitated working with the Mexican authorities and private sector.
What is your opinion of the mexican economy?
I think there is quite a positive perspective because, of course, Mexico was affected by the financial and economic crisis that happened in the U.S. and that affected the rest of the world. But on the other hand, Mexico has been able to climb out of the slump. So I think that the country has been able to take advantage of the economic and global crisis. My opinion is that their economy will increase in the future.
Of course from us, coming from Denmark, from a Country that has a welfare society funded by taxes, because our welfare is funded by tax because we have a very well-elaborated tax scheme where everyone, persons and enterprises contribute. For Mexico it will be important in the future to increase Government funding because the Government is the leader in providing education, health, infrastructure.
Any last comment for the MexicoNow subscribers?
My message to the MexicoNOW readers would be to continue with the curiosity about what Denmark has to offer. This is because we are a small country and in many ways we are different than Mexico. We have a completely different climate and the people have a distinct culture.
But on the other hand, I think we have a lot that we can offer.
What we can offer to Mexican culture is our way of being sincere and honest. If someone, for example, in Denmark says “yes” they mean “yes.” And if we say “no” that’s it and they really mean it.
What we might also recommend to the Mexican community is to try to make the most of the opportunity at the moment, to be relaxed from worry about the future and try to enjoy life to the fullest!