Wednesday, 20 Jun 2012
Lord Green speaks at the Mexico business breakfast
Lord Green’s speech to Mexican business breakfast, Mexico City, 19 June 2012
[Check against delivery]
Thank you very much for that kind introduction, and I’m delighted to be with you here in Mexico City.
I’m grateful to Hector (Tello O.B.E., Chairman of the Mexico-UK Business Committee of COMCE) and Antonio (Mayer, Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce) for helping to organise this event today and for your continued support, and thank you also to the Club de Industriales for your warm welcome.
This week, the eyes of the world have been on Mexico, and on Los Cabos in particular.
The economic and financial crises of recent years show clearly that no country can stand alone in this globalised world.
And they demonstrate why it is so important that the top international economic forum should be the G20, which groups not only the leading economies of today, but also the leading economies of tomorrow.
Mexico is already an economic leader.
It is the world’s 14th largest economy, and Goldman Sachs predicts that, within 40 years, it will be the fifth largest.
Its people are energetic, dynamic and entrepreneurial.
And, as a former banker, I am aware that you have in Agustin Carstens, one of foremost central bank governors in the world. I’m delighted that he is coming to the UK later this year.
I’m here today to talk about Britain being “Open for Business” and in particular open for business with Mexico.
The UK and Mexico are partners on the global stage, but our trade relations don’t reflect the very strong historical and friendly ties between our two countries.
Two hundred years ago, the UK was the leading European exporter to Latin America. UK expertise helped to build Mexico’s ports and railways, yet today our trade is a fraction of what it could be.
The aim of both our Governments is to rectify this and to double trade to £4.2 billion by 2015.
I welcome the efforts that the Chamber and COMCE are putting in to this task, alongside the Mexican and UK Governments. In particular, Mexico Week in the UK in March was a great initiative.
But there is more we can do.
I arrived yesterday with a delegation led by British Prime Minister David Cameron, and including the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and some of our leading companies and universities.
Within this delegation, there are UK firms interested in increasing their trade with Mexican partners.
Last week, Virgin Atlantic started up direct flights to Cancun. With Mexico in the top five of the UK’s long-haul tourist destinations, Virgin expects to bring 75,000 passengers to and from Mexico each year.InterContinental Hotels, which has its global headquarters in the UK, is already present in Mexico, and is expanding.
But the potential for increasing trade goes far beyond this.
With me here today are EnerG and Biogas Technologies, both interested in using Mexico’s landfill sites to generate green energy. Penspen have been working with Mexican oil firm PEMEX on offshore pipelines.
And Longshot are the UK partners of Kidzania, a great concept for teaching children about the real world with which many of you will be familiar.
The UK Government is clear that Mexico is a priority market for our firms and we are actively promoting it.
In doing so, we are using the British Chambers of Commerce in the UK to get the message across, and also the Confederation of British Industry, represented here by Deputy Director-General Dr. Neil Bentley.
We've identified particular opportunities.
Infrastructure is one example where our firms could cooperate very well together to help upgrade transport in Mexico. London is enormously proud of the new Shard skyscraper which towers over the Thames and is the tallest building in Europe. But at 310 metres, it could fit comfortably underneath the Puente Baluarte, the world’s highest cable-stayed bridge, which crosses a gorge 403 metres deep.
In telecoms, Mexico is the world's largest producer of smart phones, and over 90 percent of them carry chips designed by UK firm ARM.
In luxury goods, there is opportunity to bring more classic British craftsmanship to Mexico with brands such as Burberry, Mulberry and Jimmy Choo shoes.
And I welcome the interest being generated here by the British Council and UK firms on education, from nurseries to high tech R&D.
The UK and Mexico are both champions of free trade, and there is already an EU-Mexico Free Trade Agreement to bolster these ties.
Another characteristic our economies share is that we are both open to business. It takes 13 days to open a new business in the UK and just eight days here.
Whether it is British healthcare firm BUPA setting up in Mexico, or Gruma opening its first European tortilla factory in Coventry 12 years ago, our countries welcome investment from overseas. CEMEX is another example of a Mexican firm that has gone from strength to strength in the UK.
We hope that Mexican firms will make the UK their destination of choice in Europe.
In addition to four million Spanish-speakers, the UK can offer firms a launchpad for their global ambitions.
Many people read about Europe now as a place with problems.
These difficulties are very real and, although the UK is outside the Eurozone, we are not immune as the EU is the destination for around half of our exports.
Yet the European Union remains a market of half a billion people, which has the biggest GDP in the world when the economies are added up together.
What these difficulties have underlined for the UK is how important it is to maintain our fiscal plans that have won credibility with the international community and helped us to maintain our AAA credit rating.
In Britain, we know that investment will be vital in bringing growth.
That's why we are cutting corporation tax to 22 percent by 2014, and have published our national plans for infrastructure.
We're already seeing interest from China, where sovereign wealth fund CIC has invested in the holding company behind Thames Water. And Dubai Ports World chose the UK as the location for Europe's biggest deepsea port and logistics park, the London Gateway.
Other attractive areas for investment include:
Techcity, Europe's fastest growing digital hub that has seen investment from companies such as CISCO, Google and Intel as they seek to tap into the buzz of this lively and creative district.
Financial services, in the world's most international financial centre. An exciting new development is that London is becoming an offshore trading centre for the Chinese currency, the renminbi.
Science and technology. Graphene, which some predict could pave the way for newer and faster computer chips, is being developed by Nobel prize-winning scientists in Manchester.
The car industry, where investors in the UK have been very profitable. Like Mexico, the UK exports the vast majority of the cars it produces. Tata, which owns Jaguar LandRover, is now selling one in five of its cars to China. Nissan has decided to make two new models in the UK and General Motors is investing in its plant at Ellesmere Port.
In energy, the UK's technical expertise, forged in the North Sea, has not only made us world-leaders in areas such as subsea tractors but also contributes strongly to the UK's trade balance.
Finally, the creative industries are an area where there is great potential to share talent and enjoyment.
Despite the difference in language, the award-winning film 'Biutiful' by Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez found its fifth biggest market worldwide in the United Kingdom. This year, we've seen Mexico's Compania Nacional De Teatro perform in Shakespeare's Globe in Spanish as part of a celebration of the world's most studied playwright.
And I'm very sorry to have missed Paul McCartney's free concert in the Zocalo last month.
I gather that 50 years after 'Love Me Do' was released, Beatles music is still played for 12 hours a week on Mexican radio.
Finally, the UK and Mexico have a shared link as Olympic hosts.
Back in 1968, the world looked very different.
The Mexico City Games saw the famous black power salute on the Olympic podium; a Czech gymnast winning hearts and minds and medals for her country in the wake of the Soviet invasion; and we were introduced to the wisdom of leaping over obstacles backwards and head first when high jumper Dick Fosbury won gold with the 'Fosbury Flop'.
New legends will be written this summer in London, as athletes reach the cumulation of years of dedicated training.
I hope that the Mexican team will be among those taking home medals minted in the valleys of Wales.
And I hope that many of you here today will come to cheer them on.
If you do come, there are a series of 18 business summits we are staging in London that will gather some of the world's top decision-makers, including Agustin Carstens, but also creative stars like fashion designer Stella McCartney and Apple designer Sir Jonathan Ive.
Do ask my UK Trade & Investment colleagues if you are interested in attending, or even Judith Mcgregor, who I’m pleased to say is one of the UK’s most energetic and effective ambassadors.
You can also join a free online British Business Club, which gives you temporary membership of the Institute of Directors and use of their prestigious headquarters near Trafalgar Square.
I’m not going to keep you much longer as I know we're having questions.
I hope you enjoyed your breakfast.
For my UK compatriots, you may not know that Mexico was the first country to have its food recognised by the UN and awarded world cultural heritage status. But given that it’s now lunchtime in the UK, I’m sure it was much appreciated.
I'd like to end by repeating my invitation to all of you to come to the UK in our Olympic year. You'd be most welcome.
We think the UK is a great place to visit, to enjoy and to do business, and we hope you will agree. Thank you.