State Should Facilitate Industry's Needs: SEDESUBy Jan Hogewoning | Tue, 08/04/2020 - 05:00
Queretaro has seen significant growth in its manufacturing industry over the years. Much of this is the result of foreign companies that have chosen the region as their Mexican base. Marco Antonio Del Prete, the state’s Minister of Sustainable Development, credits the strong efforts of the state government and its partners in creating the right environment for investors. “The state government needs to act as a facilitator to meet companies’ needs,” he says.
Del Prete lays out a range of factors that have played a role in building a suitable business environment. “Foreign investors need to know the local government is making the right decisions,” he says. In terms of fiscal policy, Del Prete praises Queretaro as the best state in the country, basing his assessment on Moody’s’ credit rating. The state was also one of the first to adopt a new system of accusatory penal justice, which modernized the entire process from criminal investigation to sentencing. Since 2015, a revised security program has seen investment in technological tools and a professionalization of operational units. Del Prete says all these changes have made serving justice a more accelerated and transparent process, which makes combatting crime easier. In addition, the state government took decisive action to fight corruption by building citizen committees elected by the general population to oversee public activities and spending. “In the review of public spending, the state has zero missing funds,” he says.
Apart from these reforms, the state has invested heavily in infrastructure and education. Building highways has been essential in creating connectivity with surrounding states, making a regional economic alliance possible. Regarding education, Del Prete says investment is necessary to generate a continuous availability of talent with specialized skills. Local universities now produce almost 3,000 engineers annually. Of the 10,000 students who enter local academic institutions every year, half are pursuing technical degrees.
To generate specific skills sought out by the industry, the state government is also developing a laboratory together with the Technological Institute of Queretaro. The state worked together with that same university to design a special program for software engineering, a field which is increasingly in demand. “Much of this is about how Queretaro can generate capacities that differentiate it,” Del Prete says. Another example is a consortium for additive manufacturing formed by General Electric, the Center for Engineering and Industrial Development (CIDESI) and the state. This consortium has a US$12.6 million fund for the development of machines, equipment and industrial installations. The government also helped Continental to set up trials for assisted driving systems in cooperation with the Mexican Institute of Transport (IMT). Apart from technological development, the state has worked with CIDESI to improve certification protocols, so local producers can receive approvals more rapidly.
Even though the state has no light-vehicle OEMs, it has focused on attracting the suppliers and strategic partners that work with these companies. “This has only provided benefits as it has allowed the local industry to be diverse in terms of technological innovation,” says Del Prete.
Several states in Mexico’s central region, specifically Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, Aguascalientes, the State of Mexico, Puebla and Queretaro, have worked collaboratively to power the automotive industry and manufacturing as a whole. According to Del Prete, there have been frequent sessions between representatives of the different states and the national institutes focused on public policy. “The objective of these sessions is to align social, economic and political goals to drive economic development. The sessions so far have resulted in eight objectives focused on areas like infrastructure, education, security and quality of life,” he says. The strategies devised have focused on promotional campaigns regarding the region’s industrial potential, as well as on exchanges of knowledge between the states, simplification of administrative protocols and new infrastructure projects that have resulted in 150 project proposals. In the area of infrastructure, Del Prete mentions the development of the train network and the expansion of energy grids, both key to enhancing interstate logistics and providing a suitable environment for industrial production. “The state government’s efforts, as well as those of the surrounding states, will benefit the growth of the country as a whole.”