Mexico as Land of Opportunity

(Commentary by Doug Donahue)

There is a very interesting article that appeared recently in the New York Times, labeling Mexico a “new land of opportunity” as an immigrant destination. Mexico’s foreign-born population nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010, and Mexican officials say this pace is accelerating even now.

Net U.S./Mexico migration is now zero, as Mexican economic prosperity has outpaced U.S., Brazil and Canada over the past 2 years, attracting interest from not only foreign investors but from educated individuals seeking opportunity.

The article outlines stories of automotive executives, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, engineers and businesspeople arriving in Mexico practically daily, seeking fortune in one of the western hemisphere’s few economic bright spots. Americans now comprise over ¾ of Mexico’s nearly one million documented foreigners. There were ten times as many Koreans living in Mexico in 2010 as in 2000.

Moment in the Sun

Yet, as the article illustrates, Mexico has been in the spotlight before. “They really blew a moment in 1994 when their currency was at rock bottom and they’d just signed NAFTA,” said Kevin P. Gallagher, a professor of international relations at Boston University. The current prosperity, investment and influx of talented foreigners represents a second chance for Mexico, and many are keen to do it right this time.

These days there is a prosperous and cosmopolitan feel to many of the cities in central Mexico, which is arguably the hottest manufacturing destination in the Americas right now. Places like Queretaro and Leon are very livable, culture-rich and diverse, belying the stereotype of industrial centers as singularly focused and devoid of such niceties.

To quote the New York Times piece:

“But the most significant changes can be found in central Mexico. More and more
American consultants helping businesses move production from China are crisscrossing the region from San Luis Potosí to Guadalajara, where Silicon Valley veterans like Andy Kieffer, the founder of Agave Lab, are developing smartphone applications and financing new start-ups. In Guanajuato, Germans are moving in and car-pooling with Mexicans heading to a new Volkswagen factory that opened a year ago, and sushi can now be found at hotel breakfasts because of all the Japanese executives preparing for a new Honda plant opening nearby.”

This richness of life is a big advantage in helping Mexico stay open and forward looking. Hopefully advances at the macro level can keep pace.

Source: New York Times

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