Mexico moving to grow trade ties with Asia

Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:33pm EDT
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By Dave Graham

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico (Reuters) - Asia could become twice as important to Mexico as an export market over the next five years as the country strengthens trade ties with the fast-growing economies of the region, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Monday.

Latin America's biggest exporter is working to diversify its trade to reduce its dependence on the U.S. market, which takes in more than three quarters of Mexico's exports.

For years a peripheral market for Mexico, Asia has been growing in importance, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has been at pains to bolster relations with China in particular since he took office at the start of December.

Mexico's economy is facing its toughest year since 2009 and net trade has been a drag on growth, with imports rising faster than exports in 2013. However, robust demand in the Orient for Mexican goods has helped to take the edge off.

Guajardo told Reuters the government was in the midst of "redesigning" ties with Asia and was optimistic the share exports to the region would increase before Peña Nieto's term comes to an end in December 2018.

"From what we have today to what we could have, I think it could be double (the export share)," he said in an interview on the sidelines of a meeting of ministers from Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Chile in the Caribbean resort of Playa del Carmen.

The four countries make up the Pacific Alliance, a nascent Latin American bloc that later on Monday could conclude talks on removing the last trade barriers between them.

Favoring stronger trade with fast-growing Asian economies, the members of the Pacific Alliance are pushing free market policies to spur growth and boost foreign investment.   Continued...

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo gestures as he speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Mexico City August 16, 2013. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo