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Mexico Seeks Ways to Achieve Growth for All

January 10, 2013


President Enrique Peña Nieto and panelists in 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.

2013 might after all become the year ancient Mayans described as the “end of the world” as we know it, and the beginning of a brand new era. 

Mexico’s forebears may have been vindicated this week after a gathering of development, business and government leaders concluded that Mexico is, indeed, entering a new economic chapter.

With its huge economic potential and a new, energetic leadership, Mexico could become the new growth and innovation engine for the region, said experts at the  ForoMexico2013 –a high-level debate on making Mexico more prosperous and inclusive.

“Mexico can indeed find its place among the most advanced economies in the world”, said World Bank Regional Vice President Hasan Tuluy. “In order for that to happen, though, it needs to move from its current mid-income status towardsbecoming a middle-class society,” Hasan added.

The essential drivers of such ambitions are growth which includes more people and care for the environment while economic expansion takes place.  These are already strategic goals in the government’s agenda, the meeting heard. 

#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’s, first official acts in office.

In a packed and vibrant room at Centro Banamex, matched only 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 onto 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 a moderator.

Participant Karla Ornelas noted that she was particularly interested in green growth, while Juan Antonio Díaz Cruz, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he cared about Mexico’s integration into the global scene. 

Realizing full potential  

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

"We as Mexicans still need to further recognize our strength as a country, the great richness that we have and the enormous potential that we have,” said Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at the forum –a joint initiative by the World Bank, the OECD, the IDB and ECLAC. 

Mexico is, in no doubt, a regional power, but it isn’t growing at the right pace – its per capita income level, for example, is one third of that in the US,.

Mexico could fuel growth by focusing on productivity. More innovation, research and improving education are just some of the issues which have to be tackled so that productivity can be increased. 

“The key to reducing 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 Tuluy

World Bank Vice President For Latin America and the Caribbean

“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 aren’t an option any more: they are an absolute necessity; indispensable, essential, urgent,” Gurria said.

Another challenge is the increasing number of people living below the poverty line following the 2008 crisis. In 2011, more than 40 million Mexicans were living in poverty and 11.7 million in extreme poverty, 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 emissions 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.

The World Bank has had a long history of collaboration with Mexico across multiple areas. 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.