KITE Invest had the pleasure of talking with the Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Mexico about the great hopes that the UK is hoping to achieve this year with Mexico. The Baroness’s role is focused precisely on connecting Mexico and the UK, and with 2015 celebrating the Dual Year; the Baroness holds great expectations for a much stronger and better relationship between the two countries.
KITE Invest: Thank you for your time today. I would like to begin by asking you if you could define and explain your role as the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Mexico means?
Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter: I was appointed as the Prime Minister’sTrade Envoy to Mexico in November 2012. The Coalition government feltthat there were countries that the UK needed to pay more attention to.That theBRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries were receivinga lot more attention at a high government level, but countries like Mexico needed attention as well. As a result, it was decided that there should be dedicated Trade Envoys appointed to concentrate on a particular country, and I was lucky enough to have Mexico.
My role is to connect Mexico and the UK and be the person who ensures that initiatives are followed through. What happens with government is that there is a lot of goodwill, but there is also a lot going on. I am there to make sure that action is taken and initiatives are followed through.
When I was made Trade Envoy, a new Mexican Ambassador in London and a new UK Ambassador in Mexico City were appointed, we have become good friends, and we are all working together very constructively I think. We have 2015 to coordinate – and make that Mexico and the UK form better trade links and even better cultural links.
KITE: As the Trade Envoy to Mexico, please share your expectations and opinions on the upcoming ‘Dual Year’, and if there are any particular events or points of interest you would like to address?
JBC: Most recently the Prince of Wales went to Mexico to launch the beginning of the Dual Year.
My hope and expectations are that we will get to know each other better. While there is this mutual appreciation, both historical and current, I think the UK and Mexico need to know more about each other. For the next 12 months there will be the opportunity to create greater connections and understanding in the areas of art, education, trade, science and culture, and this is all very exciting.
KITE: With the Dual Year setting the stage for greater collaboration between the two countries, how do you foresee the UK positioning Mexico as a destination for trade, investment and tourism?
JBC: We will hopefully draw attention to the reforms in Mexico that have been happening other the last two years in various sectors.
Both Mexico and the UK hope to get rid of stereotypes. For instance, in the UK, the responseto the opening ceremony of the Olympics 2012 was the end of the perception of the UK as a stuffy country where people wear Bowler hats, a stereotype from a long time ago, but one that still resonated. That ceremony it introduced modern UK to the world. I hope that the UK Mexico Dual Year will have the same effect and get rid of stereotypes on both sides of the Atlantic.
KITE: In terms of perception issues, you have just mentioned the UK’s stereotype, do you think Mexico’s perception has affected the amount of UK business and investment entering Mexico?
JBC: As the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said, “Britain’s presence in Mexico has been too small, too reticent and too modest for far too long,” – I think that is correct.
The UK was the first European country to recognize Mexico as a country; we also were the first trade contact with the independent Mexico. Today, there is a cultural love affair with many Mexican artists and writers living in the UK, and many Britons living in Mexico; however, we have not translated that into good business. That is one of the things 2015 needs to do.
KITE: Beyond cultural relations, the UK is Mexico’s fifth largest investor and is committed to doubling trade with Mexico to £4.2 billion by the end of 2015. In your estimation do you think is achievable goal and what measures are being taken to ensure this happens?
JBC: I hope this does happen and part of my task is to achieve this. The reforms that President Peña Nieto and his government have been putting through since entering office do make this highly feasible.
KITE: Lastly, with the focus being on 2015, how will the emphasis created be maintained after 2015, so as not to lose the momentum?
JBC: I think and hope that one of the things that will happen as a result of2015 is that there will be a greater mutual understanding of our two countries. There is a huge appreciation of things Mexican in the UK already. However, I think 2015 will see a new perception being formed, one of a vibrant, young country that is undergoing a lot of reforms, and offers a lot of opportunities. I think all of those messages will come through in 2015 and they will not just disappear, but will continue into the rest of the 21st century.