Q: How have new investments in Guanajuato impacted its automotive industry?
A: For 15 years, we were traditionally an agricultural, livestock and textile trade region. The first manufacturing company that came to the state was GM, 20 years ago, which was responsible for boosting our growth. Before GM, we were exporting US$200 million per year but now we export more than US$20 billion per year from our automotive and other manufacturing activities. The industrial sector remains the driver for these exports and the automotive industry’s results put it in first place among all industries. In second place is the agricultural industry followed by metal mechanic. Automotive manufacturing is a big part of Guanajuato’s development and in five years it has grown to represent 17 percent of the state’s GDP.
One of every five vehicles that is produced in Mexico is made in Guanajuato, putting us among the top five manufacturers in the country. By the year 2020, most OEMs established in Mexico will have operations here. Toyota will lead us to consolidate as the most important cluster in Latin America for vehicle production. The top brands that are working here are Honda, Mazda, GM, Hino Motors and Volkswagen, as well as top suppliers including American Axle and GKN, among many others. Ford’s transmission plant will start operations in 2017. Together these companies have generated 90,000 jobs. Guanajuato's unemployment rate, at under 4 percent, is lower than the average in Mexico.
Q: What is the government’s strategy to boost research and technological development?
A: The State Commission for Higher Education Planning (COEPES), an institution through which public and private schools promote lifelong learning, and the State Commission for the Planning and Programming of Upper Secondary Education (CEPPEMS) have established a workplan for 2035. The decisions of these entities will guide education in Guanajuato for the coming years. The 30 universities inaugurated in the past nine years in Guanajuato all have technological profiles. They are not traditional colleges because they train talent to meet market demand, primarily in engineering and metal mechanics.
Adjusting to market demand involves growth in the Guanajuato State Training Institute (IECA), an intermediary between schools and the private sector where companies join forces to train young people. We have negotiated many agreements with Germany for business training through the dual-education program. There is also an association of retired German teachers that helps us. Many of them developed careers in the automotive sector and visit the state to help train our youth. An agreement with Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA) supplements this with a student and teacher exchange from those studying at the National College of Technical Professional Education (CONALEP), to imitate the advantages of the Japanese education system and create equivalent certifications in technical colleges
Q: How is the state promoted to attract investment and to build stronger relationships with countries besides the US?
A: The Foreign Trade Promotion Coordinator (COFOCE) has been working in Guanajuato for 25 years. This coordination is older than ProMéxico and has helped us broaden our scope of trade. COFOCE is a permanent effort that works on all continents because diversification is key to our growth. Twenty-eight countries are investing in Guanajuato, including Japan, the US, Germany and France. The US is our main market and it will continue as such. The market is constantly moving and the reality of trade and industry overshadows intimidating speeches, such that 50 percent of what we export goes to the US.
We have strengthened our relationship with Canada and many companies are already purchasing directly from us. Africa is beginning to buy the first exports headed that way and Asia is a great opportunity for the agricultural and livestock sector. We are interested in continuing to negotiate with countries such as Japan, Korea and China. We have also exported to Guatemala and the rest of Latin America, as the south of the continent has turned into an area of opportunity for Mexico. Our goal for direct investment from foreign industries was US$5 billion but we received foreign investment of over US$10 billion. By the end of our administration in September 2018 we expect between US$11 billion and US$12 billion, because we are diversifying in the aerospace, energy and automotive sectors.
Q: What is the development goal of the production chain in the automotive sector?
A: Our development strategy is based on a plan for the year 2035 and its targets need to be updated to work toward a new deadline in 2040. We need more adjustments, so Guanajuato’s policies reflect its short and medium-term goals, and do not simply become the duty of the governor in office. These policies should focus on diversification. Newly arriving companies make the development of local suppliers more attractive because importing services tends to be more expensive. Companies prefer to have the product close by since imports represent a setback due to delayed transfers and tariffs. We are pleased that local companies are integrated into the supply chain and we are working on improving any area of opportunity for Mexican companies. This is one of the priority mandates that the President of the Automotive Cluster of Guanajuato (CLAUGTO), Fidel Otake, proposed.
Q: Will you be the new presidential candidate for PAN?
A: I am mentioned as a possible candidate for the party but, at the moment, I am concentrated on Guanajuato where there are many investments. We are closing deals with 22 industrial parks, when the initial goal was seven. We have a lot more work than we expected to have, though we are happy so many companies want to expand in our state, even if we are rushed to close deals in the year and a half we have left.