By Daniel Hunter
Prime Minister David Cameron is leading a high-level business delegation this week to Mexico, which is hosting the G20 and B20 summits in Los Cabos.
He is accompanied by Chancellor George Osborne, Trade & Investment Minister Lord Green and over 25 UK companies, institutions and universities including Diageo, Rolls Royce, Virgin Atlantic and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Also travelling are Business Ambassador Tamara Mellon and pottery designer Emma Bridgewater.
“Almost two hundred years ago, the UK was the number one European exporter to Latin America," Lord Green said.
"British expertise helped to build Mexico’s railways and canals, but UK firms currently account for less than one per cent of Mexico’s imports. We need to turn this performance around in one of the world’s most promising markets.”
This year, Mexico is hosting the G20 summit in Los Cabos which is due to focus on growth and employment; strengthening the international financial architecture; financial market reform; and food security and development.
The B20 summit, which immediately precedes the G20 and is due to be opened by Mexican President Felipe Calderón, gathers senior business people to discuss themes such as growth, development, trade and investment.
The UK has made expanding trade with Mexico a priority, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg led a delegation there last year. Mexico is currently the 14th largest economy in the world and the second largest in Latin America, with a rapidly expanding middle class.
The Prime Minister and the business delegation are expected to arrive in Mexico on Monday and will travel to Mexico City on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister is expected to hold bilateral meetings with Mexican leaders.
UK Trade & Investment has identified opportunities in Mexico in tourism, financial services, retail, environmental management, creative industries, machinery, health, education, aerospace, automotive and pharmaceuticals.
UK business leaders accompanying Prime Minister David Cameron to Mexico have underlined the potential of this market.
Dr. Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:
“This timely visit with the Prime Minister shows British companies are committed to strengthening their ties with Mexico, and is a great opportunity to showcase what the UK can offer, such as retail, luxury and consumer goods, and green technologies. Mexico is a vital trade partner for the UK, with its growing economy and burgeoning middle class, and demand for quality British goods and services is increasing. To achieve a potential £20 billion boost to the UK economy by 2020 through increasing exports, the UK must look beyond traditional markets and strengthen its relationships with fast-growing economies like Mexico.”
Steve Ridgway, Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic, which last week started direct flights into Cancun, said:
“We are excited to have started flying into Mexico. It is one of the top five long-haul leisure destinations for UK passengers and we see this market as a valuable addition to our network. Early bookings have been strong and it looks set to be one of our busiest routes this summer. We expect to carry over 75,000 passengers in the first year alone, which could generate as much as $20m in tourism revenue to the Mexican economy. We’re very pleased to be involved in carrying the Prime Minister and this important business delegation to the G20 and hope it will further develop relations with this important market.”
Kirk Kinsell, President, the Americas, for InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), which is headquartered in Buckinghamshire, said:
“Mexico provides many opportunities to diversify in the hotel business, from resort to business destinations. The country can serve several tastes in regards to tourism - adventure, sun, colonial - and it has a growing economy in the trillion dollar range. We see a huge opportunity to grow many of our hotel brands, such as InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn and Staybridge Suites in Mexico.”
Hugh Richmond, Managing Director of ENER-G Natural Power, said:
"We're proud that our biogas generation project in Aguascalientes is contributing to the country's visionary climate change targets, as well as supplying green power to Nissan. ENER-G sees huge investment potential in Mexico's emerging renewable energy industry.”
Nigel Curson, Director of Integrity Services at London-based Penspen, said:
“Mexico represents a wealth of opportunities for companies like Penspen with a strong track record in oil and gas engineering, project management and integrity services. The country’s estimated 681 trillion cubic feet of shale gas reserves, combined with its aim to replace 100 per cent of extracted oil with new discoveries, make it a crucial market for engineering consultancy, training and knowledge-transfer.”
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