From 14 to 17 March 2022, an economic mission of the Secretariat of State for the Economy (SECO) visited Mexico.and meeting of the Swiss-Mexican Consultative Group with government and private sector representatives of the two countries. Several other events with regional authorities and representatives of Swiss companies made it possible to learn more about the country and its economic development.
AN IMPORTANT BUSINESS PARTNER AND UNDISPLAYED POTENTIAL
On March 15, the Swiss-Mexican Consultative Group, led by Secretary of State Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch and Mexican Deputy Foreign Trade Minister Luz María de la Mora Sánchez, met. Mexico is Switzerland’s second largest trading partner in Latin America, after Brazil. The volume of bilateral trade decreased slightly to CHF 2.3 billion in 2020 due to the effects of the Covid crisis. However, the trade figures are starting to rise again. Switzerland is also the twelfth direct investor in Mexico. The two countries also work closely together within international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
During the meeting, representatives of the Swiss industry were able to make concrete proposals to improve the framework conditions. This is on the one hand to modernize the free trade agreement. On the other hand, the participants also spoke about concerns regarding the legal requirements of the Mexican authorities, such as the Federal Commission for the Protection of Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS). Finally, specific Mexican standards for market access, for example MEM products, were discussed.
Mexico is an attractive manufacturing location for Swiss companies due to its geographic location, diversified economy and extensive network of free trade agreements. These factors have been highlighted on several occasions by various Swiss companies based in the country, on the occasion of a CEO breakfast organized by the Swiss-Mexican Chamber of Commerce and Industry. They thus justify the long-term commitment and investment in the site, despite certain challenges such as rising inflation.
MODERNIZATION OF THE EFTA-MEXICO FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
The EFTA countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) have had a free trade agreement with Mexico since 2001. This provides a solid basis for bilateral trade in goods. However, due to the partly outdated rules, not all exporters can reap the benefits. A comprehensive modernization of the agreement is therefore a top priority for the Swiss economy and negotiations have been underway since 2016. At the Consultation Group meeting, both sides reaffirmed their political will to conduct constructive negotiations. From an economic point of view, it is now important to conclude these as quickly as possible in a mutually beneficial manner in order to deepen and develop the bilateral relationship in the future.
BROAD SUPPORT FOR SWISS COMPANIES
The Swiss delegation spent the last two days of the mission in Querétaro, a town near Mexico City. In recent years, this city has become an important industrial and research location, especially in the aviation, automotive and wine-growing sectors. Several Swiss companies have set up production sites in this region. On the occasion of this visit and thanks to a dynamic development, the Swiss-Mexican Chamber of Commerce and Industry has strengthened its presence in the Bajío region, of which the state of Querétaro is part. The Swiss Business Hub, integrated into the Swiss Embassy, is also an important point of contact for Swiss companies. It helps Swiss SMEs to analyze export opportunities in the Mexican market.