The Malaysian Embassy and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) hosted a one-day forum on Mexican investment and trade opportunities with that Southeast Asian nation on Thursday, May 19, at the Hilton Reforma Hotel in downtown Mexico City.
The forum was jointly led by Mexican Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal and Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed, who flew in from Kuala Lumpur with 18 Malaysian business leaders from 13 different corporations in order to find seek out new channels of bilateral economic and commercial cooperation.
“Although our two countries are separated by a distance of about 20,000 kilometers, we already have an impressive amount of two-way trade,” said Guajardo Villarreal at the start of the event.
Guajardo Villarreal pointed out that, according to Mexican government figures, combined bilateral trade between the two countries amounts to about $7.5 billion annually (including goods and services triangled through Singapore and the United States).
Over 60 percent of that trade is composed of electrical goods, electronics and automotive parts.
In addition, Malaysia has investments in Mexico to the tune of about $8 million, mainly in the form of a DXM beverage and health supplement plant in Tlaxcala and the Likom sheet metal factory in Chihuahua.
Mexico, in turn, has investments in Malaysia through the Monterrey-based cement giant Cementos Mexicanos (Cemex) and the amusement park conglomerate KidZania worth about $35 million.
Moreover, as of 2014, Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and Malaysia’s state-owned oil and gas company Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) have been cooperating in the field of lubricants, and Malaysia’s ever-expanding aerospace sector — which currently brings in revenues of about $3 billion a year for the 330,000-square-kilometer nation and is slated to represent nearly $14 billion in sales in the next 15 years — is also looking to cooperate with Mexico through the sharing of knowhow and expertise.
“And now with the recent establishment of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community and the soon-to-be established Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), to which both Malaysia and Mexico are ascribed, there are vast opportunities for even greater binational cooperation in terms of trade and investment,” Guajardo Villarreal said.
As of Dec. 31, 2015, the 10-member ASEAN community transitioned into a formal economic bloc aimed at helping to promote growth and development throughout the region.
The new community, with some 600,000 citizens, was first established in Bangkok in 1967 as a loose political association with founding members Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Today, it also includes Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, and has become a more complex entity that includes commercial and economic integration and the free exchange of goods, services and people
The proposed TPP trade deal, which will include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam, will account for about 40 percent of all global trade, potentially making it the world’s largest economic partnership.
Encompassing an area of about 800 million people, the TPP will substantially reduce barriers to trade and investment among the member economies benefiting consumers and businesses, as well as creating new jobs.
Minister Mohamed noted that Malaysia is an ideal place for Mexican companies to establish a foothold in the ASEAN and TPP markets, and has the advantages of a highly skilled workforce, ample and affordable energy and a stable economic and political landscape.
He also said that foreign corporations have the option of full ownership status and repatriation of capital, as well as other incentives such as extended tax holidays.
Mohamed said that his country is particularly looking for investors in infrastructure, tourism and electronics.