Mexican President Vicente Fox is visiting five European countries to promote his country's latest trade agreement. On Friday, the Mexican leader met with German officials in Hamburg following a visit to the Czech republic. He is also scheduled to visit France, Spain and Italy.
Mexico is the only country in Latin America to have clinched a trade agreement with the European Union. Now more than a year later, President Fox is on a week long European tour. It is a bid to duplicate the success following his country's inclusion in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The Mexican leader summed up his intention during an interview with this reporter. "We have this trade agreement, which represents a huge potential for Mexico and Europe. If we remember what happened with NAFTA 10 years ago, there [were] many people who didn't believe it would work," he said. "Today it's moved Mexico to become the 10th largest economy in the world. We have a trade balance of over 350 billion U.S. dollars. An all of this can be constructed now with Europe. So in these next years, we are going to concentrate our efforts in detonating the potential of the trade agreement with Europe."
President Fox said the shockwaves in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks in the United States are still reverberating around the world. One of the best and strongest answers to this sort of attempted intimidation, is to return to normality, and try to strengthen badly shaken economies. "Now it is time to come back to work and my trip to Europe basically has that message, that we have to work to bring our economies back to growth," he said. "That the trading between Mexico and Europe can be an instrumental tool to be able to move our economies back to growth again. So my message is let's get back to work and let's build up more and more opportunities for both of our countries."
Eighty percent of Mexican exports currently go to the United States. But with tariffs and trade barriers between Mexico and Europe coming down, some U.S. companies will find the Mexican market increasingly competitive. And Mr. Fox is no doubt hoping that hoping his trip to Europe will spark greater European interest and investment in his country.
To what extent this will impact on the 600,000 jobs the NAFTA has already created in the United States, remains to be seen.