From 17 to 20 July, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Mexico City and Guanajuato, the capital of the central Mexican state of the same name. As well as providing an opportunity for political talks, the visit was intended to spotlight the German business community’s manifold presence in the country.
Mexico is the first country in Latin America Steinmeier visited during his second term of office. Immediately after his arrival, the German Foreign Minister was able to gain a first impression of German business’s readiness to invest in the country: in Mexico City, he took part in the ceremony at which the contract of purchase of BMW’s new production site was signed. The car manufacturer wants to invest a total of one billion US dollars in the federal state of San Luis Potosí, thus creating many new jobs and apprenticeships.
Meeting with the President and Foreign Minister
Foreign Minister Steinmeier then met Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto. Peña Nieto has been in office since late 2012 and has initiated a comprehensive reform programme in his country. The talks focused on German-Mexican relations and the German dual vocational training model, which is attracting considerable interest in Mexico. Furthermore, Steinmeier – acting on behalf of Chancellor Merkel – invited the President to pay a state visit to Germany. Foreign Minister José Antonio Meade Kuribreña was also present during the talks and afterwards he guided his German counterpart through the gallery in the president palace, where portraits of Mexican presidents are on display.
Steinmeier and Meade then travelled to the Foreign Ministry, where they continued their talks. In a joint press conference, Steinmeier called Mexico a key player in Latin America and beyond. The German Foreign Minister stressed:
Mexico plays an important role in key issues as a bridge-builder between North and South. Topics such as climate protection or international cyber security are on our joint agenda. We can cooperate because we share the same values.
Steinmeier added that his visit was intended to send the message “that we want to step up the comprehensive partnership between Germany and Mexico” – a concrete departing point for this, he went on to say, was the creation of a binational commission under the auspices of the two Foreign Ministries to pool issues of importance to both countries.
Confidence in Mexico as a base for business
As major export nations, Steinmeier stated, Germany and Mexico were also linked by their keenness to see free and dynamic world trade. With more than 1300 German companies operating in Mexico, which have created over 120,000 jobs, Germany was already Mexico’s most important trading partner in Europe. “German investment also demonstrates confidence in Mexico as a base for business and in its reform policies,” said Steinmeier.
Shock over the crash of a passenger aircraft in Ukraine
Afterwards, Steinmeier expressed his shock over the death of at least 295 people in the crash of a passenger aircraft in eastern Ukraine. “It leaves me utterly speechless that hundreds of innocent travellers lost their lives in this horrible way,” said the Foreign Minister. Steinmeier added:
We expect everything to be done to throw light on this incident as quickly as possible. The separatists must grant rescue workers and security forces immediate access to the crash site. An independent international investigation must be initiated without delay in order to establish the cause of this terrible disaster.
Visits to companies in Guanajuato
On Friday (18 July), the German Foreign Minister gained a first-hand impression of Mexico as a location for investment: In Guanajuato, the capital of the central Mexican state of the same name, Steinmeier and Meade attended the opening of Beiersdorf’s new production centre and research laboratory. In his speech to the company’s workforce, the German Foreign Minister said that his fellow Germans normally saw him in “international security policy hotspots” – in Kyiv, Jerusalem or Moscow. Today, however, he was in lovely Guanajuato, precisely the right place to be: “For our common future is at stake here.”
German investment creates jobs and apprenticeships
Steinmeier was referring in particular here to German-Mexican economic relations: More than 1700 German companies have already invested in Mexico and created more than 120,000 jobs. The Foreign Minister said it was possible to sum up the success of this investment in Spanish by saying: “El árbol se conoce por el fruto” – A tree is known by its fruit.
The fruits of German investment should be jobs and apprenticeships, research and development. I hope these fruits flourish in the Mexican sun!
After a tour of Schaeffler’s plant in Irapuato, Steinmeier spoke to apprentices from the company’s vocational school, who presented him with a chess set they had made. The German Foreign Minister was accompanied on his trip by a German business delegation.
Before returning to Germany, Steinmeier also met representatives of Mexico’s civil society to find out more about, among other things, current developments in the human rights sphere.