By: Enrique Peña Nieto
Mexico City In the
current era of innovation, known as the Fourth
Industrial Revolution, the latest technologies are completely transforming
economic sectors at an impressive rate. This is, rightly, the subject of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting that
will be held this week in Davos, Switzerland. In the following years, the scope and pace of
innovation will transform the way we produce, distribute and consume. To maximize its benefits, we must take measures
that allow us to prepare our economies and societies, with special emphasis on
three key areas: education,
business environment and connectivity.
Human capital is essential to the development of an economy and the Mexican
economy is no exception. That is why my government has taken important steps to improve education
at all levels.
For example, we recently launched the National Educational
Infrastructure Certificates, private investment vehicles that will allow us to
channel approximately three billion dollars to upgrade primary school facilities
over the next three years. Moreover, in the current school year, we have delivered tablets to
nearly half of the 2.3 million fifth graders.
We are also working to enable the present and future generations to have
the necessary skills to thrive in a constantly changing labor market. Last
year, more than 110,000 students in
Mexico graduated in areas such as engineering, manufacturing and construction-a
much higher figure than in most developed countries, including France, Germany
and the UK .
To consolidate this progress, we are increasing public investment in
science and technology, aimed at universities and public research centers
across the country. In the past
three years alone, the number of academics in our National Research System has
increased by 26% and we have almost doubled public spending on research,
innovation and development. Recognizing the great importance of the links between industry, academia
and government, we have also increased the number of Technology Transfer
Centers to facilitate the development of new products and businesses in areas
such as biotechnology, energy and information technologies.
At the same time, we are working hard
to improve the business environment. We have taken firm steps to maintain
macroeconomic stability. The Bank of Mexico has established an independent monetary policy that ensures
price stability and low inflation. In fact, in November 2015, the annual inflation rate was 2.21%, the
lowest in the history of Mexico. Moreover, our debt remains diversified and low. In 2015, the relationship between debt and gross
domestic product remained at 46.9%, well below the average for Latin America
and the Caribbean of 55.6% - and is expected to reach 47.8% in 2016.
We also promoted Energy Reform, which has made it possible to reduce electricity
costs, eliminate monthly increases in gasoline prices and increase the number
of gas pipelines across the country, thus boosting our competitiveness. For the first time in decades, all activities in
the energy sector have been opened up to the private sector-a strategy that
will attract an estimated 12 thousand 600 million dollars every year.
Likewise, by allowing more foreign investment in the telecommunications
sector, we have reduced the rates of telephone service, both fixed and mobile,
improving its quality and coverage.
Since micro, small and medium enterprises are the main economic engine
of Mexico, we are incorporating digital
tools to expedite the opening of new businesses, while facilitating
entrepreneurs’ access to credit from commercial banks. In this regard, the Young Credit Program offers loans of up to $9,000; and for those
looking to build their business, this amount could increase to $150,000.
The third key factor for preparing our economy, as we approach the Fourth
Industrial Revolution, is connectivity. Mexico is one of the few countries in the world
that has formally recognized the right of access to broadband Internet. So far during this administration, we have
connected 65,000 public spaces such as schools and libraries. This helps to
achieve our goal of enabling 70% of households and 85% of micro, small and
medium businesses to have access to high speed Internet.
However, connectivity is not only digital, physical infrastructure is
also essential. Mexico is
currently a manufacturing powerhouse and one of the leading exporters of flat
screens, vehicles, auto parts, computers and cell phones. State-of-the-art infrastructure will enable us to
add value and diversify our export industries.
We are therefore
channeling more than $460 billion USD for the construction and modernization of
thousands of kilometers of roads and highways, as well as to expand and improve our mass transit networks. Other large-scale projects include the new Mexico
City International Airport and the development of port projects to nearly
double our capacity in the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. In the long term, we will convert Mexico into a
world-class logistics platform.
Mexico remains committed to promoting free trade, a powerful engine of
growth. In the past three years, we have expanded our
network of trade agreements with the Pacific Alliance and more recently the Trans-Pacific
Partnership. As a result, we will have a total of 13 agreements
that provide preferential access to 52 countries, with a potential market of
300 billion consumers.
My government has taken strategic steps to strengthen the Mexican
economy and address the major challenges of the future, such as an increasing
demand for specialized professionals in a wide range of areas of expertise, and
an urgent need to strengthen connectivity, especially in more remote rural
areas (where 9% of Mexicans live). We must provide the necessary tools for every Mexican and every business
to be able to seize the opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial
Revolution, and ensure that future generations can also develop their full
potential in an increasingly changing world.