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Mexico Boosts Relations with Europe

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President Felipe Calderon promotes Mexico in Europe just as trade ties are growing.

BY CHRONICLE STAFF

As Mexican President visits five European nations this week, he can bring some goods news. Mexico's trade with the European Union is growing. Last year it reached a total of 29.6 billion euro (approximately US$37.2 billion), an increase of 13.9 percent from 2005, according to data from Eurostat, the official EU statistics agency.

Mexico is the top Latin American destination for EU exports and the second-largest EU trade partner in the region, according to a Latin Business Chronicle analysis of Eurostat data. Mexico's trade with the EU was the second-highest in Latin America last year, measured in real terms, our analysis shows.

Calderon, who started his visit to Europe on Sunday in Italy, is also scheduled to visit Germany, France, Belgium and Denmark.  Germany, France and Italy are among Mexico's top trading partners in Europe. His goal is to promote more European trade with, and investment in, Mexico. He also hopes to help boost European tourism to Mexico, Latin America's largest recipient of tourists.

"For Mexico it is very important to be able to diversify our relations,, which currently are dominated mainly by the relation with the United States," Calderon said during a press conference in Rome today. "For us it is a priority to diversify Mexico's relationship, mainly towards the European Union." 

Mexico's trade with the EU represents roughly 11.2 percent of its trade with the United States, its dominant trade partner.  However, Mexico is facing intense competition from China on the U.S. market and needs to find other markets that can help it offset the growing competition.

GERMANY AND ITALY

Calderon is scheduled to attend the G-8 summit in Germany on Wednesday.  But his  visit to Germany - his second in six months - will also underscore the close ties between the countries. Mexico is the top market for EU exports in Latin America and its second-largest trade partner in the region. Last year, Mexican trade with Germany grew by 9.2 percent to 8.4 billion euro. Mexican exports to Germany grew by 13.5 percent to 2.1 billion euro, while imports from Germany increased by 7.9 percent to 6.3 billion euro.

Mexico is one of five emerging economies that have been invited to attend this year's G-8 summit. The others include Brazil, China, India and South Africa.

Italy is also a key trade partner for Mexico. Italy ranks third among Mexico's top EU partners - behind Germany and Spain. And Mexico is Italy's top trading partner in Latin America. Total Mexican trade with italy reached 2.9 billion euro last year, an increase of 16.8 percent from 2005.  Italian exports to Mexico dominate. Last year, they reached 2.6 billion euro, a 18.2 percent increase. Meanwhile, Mexican exports to Italy grew by 6.0 percent to 292 million euro. During his visit to Italy, Calderon met with Prime Minister Romano Prodi and President Giorgio Napolitano.

"Mexico has in a very intelligent way known how to build economic relations, whether it is with the United States or the European Union," Prodi, a former EU president, said during the press conference in Rome. Prodi is scheduled to visit Mexico in February 2008.

Calderon will also meet with more than 400 Italian business executives during a visit to Milan on Tuesday.

FRANCE AND SARKOZY

The Mexican president also plans to visit France, its fifth-largest trade partner in Europe. He will become the first Latin American head of state to meet with the new French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Mexican trade with France declines by 2.0 percent last year to 2.2 billion euro. The decline was due to a fall in Mexican imports from France as well as minimal growth in exports to France. Mexican imports from France reached 1.7 billion euro, a 3.2 percent decline, while exports to France grew by 1.6 percent to 569 million euro.

Calderon's visit also includes Belgium - the host country for the EU - and Denmark. Trade with Belgium reached 1.5 billion euro last year, a 8.2 percent increase. Meanwhile, Mexican-Danish trade grew by 18.4 percent to 238 million euro.

Calderon will not visit Spain or the United Kingdom, which are Mexico's second- and fourth-largest EU trading partners. Last year, Mexican trade with Spain reached 5.7 billion euro, a 12.9 percent increase. Mexico's trade with the UK grew by 8.9 percent to 2.7 billion, according to the analysis from Latin Business Chronicle

 
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