The Mexico – UK Dual Year is in full swing. President Enrique Peña Nieto’s State Visit to the United Kingdom last week solidified more than a successful year of ‘Mexico in the UK, the UK in Mexico’; it ensured long-lasting trade and investment agreements, amplified measures of cultural and educational exchanges, and committed bilateral partnerships and political support. Moreover, and in line with the sentiment expressed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, it became clear during the three-day visit that the best is yet to come between the two nations.

Throughout the visit the effects of Mexico’s ground-breaking reforms were the launch pad for the several signed trade agreements and cooperation accords.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Peña Nieto discussed the future of UK and Mexico relations, with particular interest given to the energy sector. As the UK and Europe move to diversify fuel supplies from Russia due to the on-going standoff over Ukraine, the opening of Mexico’s oil & gas sector has been received with open arms – made evident by the several key negotiations during the State Visit.

While a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Peña Nieto and UK Energy Minister, Matthew Hancock, perhaps the most important agreement signed occurred between Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department, which established a line of credit of USD$1 billion that will boost the entry of British companies into the Mexican energy sector.

The energy-related agreements will also have significant implications across all sectors as Minister Hancock stated, “Together with Mexico’s energy ambitions and the UK’s wealth of experience and expertise, now more than ever there are unparalleled opportunities for partnership across business and education.” During the visit Aberdeen University, site of Britain’s North Sea oil industry, and Pemex signed an agreement to help train and educate specialists.

The purpose of Peña Nieto’s State Visit was not only to make Mexican – British trade and investment linkages concrete, but also to establish Mexico as a major international contender that is diversifying its economy away from it powerhouse neighbour and putting itself in front of Latam’s other main economy, Brazil.

Moreover, the trip signalled Peña Nieto’s efforts to put Mexico on the right track and burnish the country’s negative image. The President met with the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to hold talks specifically concerning Mexico’s human rights record, to which the Deputy PM offered the UK’s continued support in improving security, the justice system and human rights in Mexico.

While Mexico’s perception issue was held at the forefront by the media over the visit, as the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Mexico, the Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter, told KITE Invest, in terms of achieving strong bilateral relations and fruitful economic ties during this Dual Year, “both Mexico and the UK hope to get rid of stereotypes.” (link to interview)

Why is the Dual Year important to both countries, the UK and Mexico have had relations since Mexico’s Independence in 1810, when the UK was the first European country to recognize Mexican sovereignty. Like all alliances overtime the extent of the bilateral relations, cultural and social appreciation ebb and flow, so why in 2015 is it the time to augment relations? The timing is right.

Both countries are looking for ways to diversify in the geopolitical arena, the opening of Mexico’s economy is allowing investors and businesses in for the first time in over 70 years, and there is ample support by both governments. As the UK State Minister for Latin America, Rt. Hon Hugo Swire told KITE Invest, “we have pledged to double trade between our countries to £4.2 billion by the end of 2015 . . . the latest figures suggest we are making good progress towards this ambitious target.” (link to interview) The Dual Year is the proof that palpable efforts are being made on both sides of the Atlantic to ease the flow of business.

The Dual Year aims to highlight and draw awareness to this strengthening of relations, and most importantly, encourage that Mexico and the UK get to know one another better.