By H.E. Mr. José Antonio Zabalgoitia, Ambassador of Mexico to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Mexico fascinates, conquers and amazes everyone who visits it, but it also faces stereotyped perceptions from those who have never been there. Let me try to convince you to go, or to return one more time.
Perhaps you have heard about its wonderful tourist destinations, its rich and delicious gastronomy, or its natural diversity and eye-catching landscapes. From a relaxed stay at the blue Caribbean Sea to an eco-touristic adventure through the whale sanctuaries in Baja California, Mexico has traditionally been an attractive tourist destination. In 2018, the country reached the 7th position in the World Tourism Organization’s Ranking, receiving a total of 41 million foreign visitors.
When talking about food, it is not only about tequila and tacos, but an extensive list of traditional dishes whose cultural richness and value begins well before the kitchen: at the hands of Mexican farmers. In 2010, Mexico’s traditional cuisine was inscribed on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list, recognizing not only its flavors but the ancestral practices and skills that surround every meal. The experience is about the colors, the fragrances, and the richness of taste of every dish in the different regions of the country.
Mexico is all of this and more. Beyond the mariachi and increasingly renowned festivities like Día de Muertos, Mexico is a leading country in a variety of industries. We are the 15th largest economy in the world, deeply integrated into global production and value chains. With 13 free trade agreements signed with 52 countries, Mexico provides preferential access to a market of 1.3 billion consumers in all corners of the world.
Mexico promotes international trade based on rules. We are huge exporters: 450 billion dollars in 2018, of which 397 billion were manufactures. Mexico is the number one producer and exporter of avocados, tomatoes, papaya, berries, lemons, and beer. We are also leaders in exports of flat-screen TVs, two-door refrigerators and smartphones. This is possible thanks to Mexico’s greatest asset, our people. Mexicans are creative, productive and hardworking; committed to making our country a reference in reliable and innovative manufacturing. In fact, every year Mexico graduates more engineers than Germany, France, the UK or Brazil.
Furthermore, Mexico is strategically integrated into the North American region. Along with our partners, Canada and the United States, we jointly manufacture a wide diversity of products. For example, any car sold by Mexico, Canada, or the United States, crossed the borders between these countries at least 7 times during the production process. With the signing and ratification of the new USMCA, Mexico and its North American partners will continue growing as a highly competitive region and providing certainty for foreign investors and local entrepreneurs.
On this side of the Atlantic, Mexico and the European Union are currently in the final stages of modernizing their Global Agreement, which not only will continue expanding commercial opportunities, but will also allow us to face together a series of pressing world challenges. Mexico is committed to an international system that fosters cooperation in important matters such as climate change, human rights, economic development, and the rule of law, to name a few.
On a bilateral level, Mexico and the Netherlands have a strong and dynamic relationship being both gateways to bigger markets in North America and Europe. The Netherlands are the 16th trading partner for Mexico and the 5th among members of the European Union. Dutch firms are the 6th source of foreign direct investment in Mexico at the global level and the 3rd within the EU. Mexico offers important opportunities for Dutch companies in key sectors such as logistics, transport, maritime, agroindustry, innovation, and life sciences and health. Our deep friendship is also based on our shared values and a solid commitment to collaborate at the bilateral and multilateral levels.
Finally, it must be said that Mexico, like every country, faces its own set of challenges. We acknowledge that there is still work to do in terms of economic growth, reduction of inequality among our population, eradication of poverty, and improvement of security. These are all areas of opportunity in which the Mexican government committedly works every day.
Mexico will overcome these challenges putting together both governmental and society’s resources. Key to this task is our openness to the world and our drive to use our competitive advantages, such as our strategic geographic position, our open economy, and our young, diverse, and hard-working population.
I sincerely hope that, after reading this, you realize that when talking about Mexico, there is much more than meets the eye.