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National Convention 2005: American Chamber/Mexico united the three presidential candidates at one podium.

"Mexico's competitiveness: moving beyond the political stalemate"


Competitiveness in Mexico was the chosen theme for this year's AMERICAN CHAMBER/MEXICO National Convention. The event, which has successfully taken place for the last six years, aims to bring together AMCHAM members to debate themes of importance and express the Chamber's commitments both to its members and to society. Intending to cover all perspectives on the central theme, AMCHAM convened personalities from the political, economic and academic sectors. Among the speakers present was Jose Luis Barraza, president of the Business Coordinating Council (CCE), who spoke--among other points--of better regulation to facilitate the creation and operation of businesses.

One of the goals of the convention was to have the presence of the three candidates for the presidency of Mexico: Roberto Madrazo Pintado, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, of the National Action Party (PAN); and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Larry Rubin, CEO of AMCHAM, thanked each of the candidates for his attendance and handed each a written copy of AMCHAM's position on competitiveness and an invitation for each candidate to work--in conjunction with AMCHAM--on making Mexico a more competitive and prosperous nation. "We will work, as we have done for 88 years, with the candidate that the Mexican public chooses," said Rubin.

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In three independent sessions, moderated by Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow, the candidates had the opportunity to discuss Mexico's main problems and each man's commitments to the country in the case of his election. Davidow--and the members of AMCHAM--had the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates.

Without a doubt, the subject members took the most interest in was the possible opening of the energy sector to private capital. The answers to these questions varied. From Lopez Obrador's negative answer: "Regarding the energy sector, we do not think that the Constitution should be modified;" to Calderon's affirmation: "If someone can produce cheaper electricity than what the CFE produces and sell it cheaper, they should produce and sell it;" and Madrazo's general and perhaps evasive comments.

The three candidates spoke of the need to push the economy to allow Mexico to better its competitiveness--not merely through NAFTA but also by facilitating procedures for both foreign and domestic investors. They expressed concern over achieving a better educational system that serves more people: "We have to educate (workers) for the economic growth of the country," said Madrazo. They spoke about the immigration problem, security, streamlining the tax system and what they would do in the case of not obtaining a majority in Congress. All three agreed that their plan of action in the case of such a reality would involve negotiation from the start. On that point, Calderon criticized the current administration, saying "this possibility of composing a coalition government is something that we have not tried in Mexico; President Fox had a politically inclusive government but that is not a synonym of a coalition government, for me this is a synonym of political generosity."

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At the end of the three sessions Rubin concluded that "there are many points on which we agree with each of the three candidates and there will always be some on which we differ, but we will work on those that we are in agreement on, for which we need the unconditional support of our businesspeople."

Almudena de la Iglesia is associate editor of BUSINESS MEXICO.
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Title Annotation:American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico
Author:de la Iglesia, Almudena
Publication:Business Mexico
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Words:572
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