Mexico Seeks Ways to Achieve Growth for All

January 10, 2013


President Enrique Peña Nieto and panelists at the opening ceremony of Foro Mexico 2013.

  • International experts gather to debate policies for inclusive development
  • Productivity, an efficient State and green growth among topics discussed.
  • Mexico has the potential and the strength to overcome its current development challenges.

Question: What do Disney, the Hall of Fame and Foro México 2013 have in common? Answer: a hashtag. 

#ForoMx2013 a top gathering of political and development leaders, became a trending topic across Mexico on Wednesday, highlighting the global importance of such meetings –one of Mexico’s new President, Enrique Peña Nieto, first official acts in office.

In a packed and vibrant room at Centro Banamex, only matched online by a virtual crowd of millions, Peña Nieto opened the forum emphasizing some of the opportunities that lie ahead for Mexico as it enters a new political phase: making sure that Mexicans have a safety net to fall upon, that growth is “green” and sustainable, and that the economy is competitive.  

Peña Nieto was on to something. The notion of development for all seems to be gathering pace among Mexicans. From the minute the President arrived to kick off the Foro, the room lit up with attendees brimming with excitement and energy. On the productivity panel alone, about 40 questions were submitted in writing, according to the moderator.

Karla Ornelas, participant in the Forum, said for example that she was particularly interested in green growth, while Juan Antonio Díaz Cruz, from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he was interested in the integration of Mexico at a global level.

These were just some of the issues discussed today at the Forum Mexico 2013, organized by the World Bank, the OECD, the IDB and the ECLAC.  

Transcending barriers to grow

Mexican and international experts talked to large and diverse audience about how development and growth can include all Mexicans.

"We as Mexicans know, and we still have to recognize yet more the strength that we have as country, the great richness that we have and the enormous potential that we have,” said Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto during the event.

“Mexico could transcend the barrier of being a middle income country in the next decades if it finds the formula to grow in a sustainable way,” said Hasan Tuluy, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean. He added that although the country was without doubt a regional power, it wasn’t growing at the pace it could and should. The income level per person in Mexico is only the third than in the US, for example.

Mexico could boost its growth by focusing on productivity. More innovation, research and improving education are just some of the issues that have to be tackled so that productivity can be enhanced, according to Tuluy.

“The key to reduce poverty and inequality is employment. That is the master key. And that is where we have to concentrate our efforts: in how we get the workers, the women and youth out of low-productivity and low-paying industries,” said Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

" Mexico could transcend the barrier of being a middle income country in the next decades if it finds the formula to grow in a sustainable way. "

Hasan Tuly

World Bank Vice President For Latin America and the Caribbean

Multilateral officials also discussed the role of public policies and reforms in spurring development.

“There is no doubt that without prudent public policies and solid institutions, the benefits of the external environment, as favorable as they may be, get diluted,” stated Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank.

OECD’s secretary General  José Ángel Gurría, seconded Moreno’s arguments. 

“There are objective reasons for optimism, especially in the field of political governance, but the proposed reforms are no option any more: they are an absolute necessity, indispensable, essential, urgent,” Gurria said.

Income level per person is a third of the level in the US

Another challenge is the increasing number of poor following the 2008 crisis. More than 40 million Mexicans still lived in poverty and 11.7 million in extreme poverty in 2011, according to CONEVAL.

However, at the same time, the middle class has grown over the past decade – it now represents over 26% of the population.

Mexico’s social protection programs like Oportunidades or Seguro Popular have benefited many, but to be even more effective,, coverage and coordination can be improved.

Cutting emission by half in 2050

Mexico is one of the countries with the richest biodiversity in the world, and has recently passed an environment law to protect it. The pioneering law states that emissions will be cut by 50%  by 2050.

Mexico has already progressed in some areas and can go even further in urban planning or administration of natural resources, among other things, says Hasan Tuluy.

In multiple areas, the World Bank has had a long collaboration with Mexico. The institution supports and accompanies the country with a vast package of services that includes lending, reports, technical assistance and bringing together key stakeholders and decision-makers, to develop tailored development solutions for Mexico.