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01/31/2013

Mexico's ties to China at a crossroads

A little over a month ago, a broad group of thinkers and academics issued a lengthy paper to President Enrique Pena Nieto that said Mexico-China relations were “extremely tense and distant.”

It cited the “absence of a strategic agenda over the short, medium and long term with respect to China…”

This comes to mind in part because of my story yesterday on the opposition to construction of a huge expo center in the Yucatan, called Dragon Mart Cancun. Groundbreaking is to being on the center, which is to have 3,040 showrooms, next month. China has high hopes for the center, according to this story from the English-language China Daily.

Today, I see suggestions in the press that Pena Nieto will travel to China in the first half of April (link in Spanish). If the trip comes to pass, the Mexican leader will have his work cut out for him.

For one thing, earlier this month Pena Nieto postponed for one year a 25-40 percent reduction in tariffs on Chinese apparel and footwear imports, saying Mexican producers weren’t yet ready to compete.

Chinese President Xi Jinping certainly wouldn’t be happy about this. But Mexico also has its peeves.

As this IPS story from last week noted, China “turned its back” on Mexico’s bid to place its widely respected central bank chief, Agustin Carstens, as head of the International Monetary Fund in 2011.

Then on top of it all is the talk that Mexico is the new China. I wrote here last August about how the two countries were near parity on wages, and how this would mean more industries moving to Mexico.

Then last weekend a compelling column in the New York Times spelled out how one entrepreneur felt it was far better for him to bring manufacturing across the border to Mexico rather than keep it in China.

"The sense of possibility I felt when I first crossed from Hong Kong to Shenzhen in 1997 is what I now feel when I cross from San Diego to Tijuana," Chris Anderson wrote in the article.

This Foreign Policy blog also picked up on the Mexico-China debate.

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pink schnoid

all rise and bow to China, everyone kissing their a**....I think Mexico´s apparent economic health is an illusion because of billions of narco pesos tainting the academic studies of the true state of the economy...also, between China and Mexico's disregard for the ecology and their obfuscation of the truth,, we might as well be in Fiction Landia...

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Tim

This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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