Enoch Castellanos
National Chamber of the Transformation Industry (CANACINTRA)
Expert Contributor

Changing Gears for a Better Mexico

By Enoch Castellanos Férez | Mon, 04/19/2021 - 09:13

In Mexico in 2020, 2 million Mexicans were born, which is more than enough reason to redouble our efforts and overcome obstacles. The year 2020 and so far, 2021, have undoubtedly been the most complex in memory. Derived from the COVID-19 pandemic, chaos was unleashed in the country, mainly hitting the economy. Human losses continue to multiply. Economic costs keep rising.

In Mexico, almost 2 million formal jobs have disappeared. Extreme poverty has returned to levels not seen in a generation. Inequalities have widened. The situation is affecting 51.9 million Mexicans.

To counter this situation, CANACINTRA, which is socially responsible and works to ensure the well-being of people, industries, the economy, and our environment, is the first organism to call for the establishment of a National Economic and Social Emergency Agreement in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have presented 10 concrete actions for the rescue of micro, small and medium business challenged by this contingency.

2020 brought us tragedies and danger. 2021 should be the year we change speed and hit the accelerator on the right path for Mexico. It is possible; therefore, we must achieve it, from a position of unity and with all the strength of industry.

In this year, vaccines are the first great moral test ahead of us, as we have said and will continue saying.

Governments have the responsibility to protect their populations, but COVID-19 cannot be defeated if society, government and the private sector act on their own. We need to team up because vaccines are a success of science but a failure of application logistics in Mexico. Unfortunately, the federal government is not doing enough.

Recent studies have revealed that vaccine hoarding could cost the world economy as much as US$9.2 trillion, nearly half of which would impact the richest countries. There is only one winner in a country where some have vaccines and others do not: the virus itself. Mexico will not be able to cure itself of the virus if the economy remains in intensive care. It is time to start an inclusive and sustainable recovery.

In 2020 in Mexico, exports of goods and services contracted 7.3 percent and imports of the same items contracted 14.8 percent. This also affected gross fixed investment, which fell 18.2 percent compared to 2019.

2021 is also a critical year for climate and biodiversity. Clean and renewable energies are not only a solution, they are the necessary path.

It is time to put a stop to carbon emissions.

To stop building new coal and oil power plants.

Reconciling with nature is possible.

We also need to address the pandemic of poverty and inequality. More than 70 percent of the population is experiencing increasing wealth inequality. The pandemic has made the situation worse.

We see it in the way COVID-19 has dealt with the vulnerable and marginalized.

The report released earlier this week by Oxfam revealed that with just the increased wealth of the 10 richest men during the crisis, there would be enough to prevent anyone from falling into poverty because of the virus and to pay for vaccination against COVID-19 for the whole world.

I reiterate my call, which I have made on several occasions, to have socially responsible businesses, so that all people have prospects for the future and enjoy protection. It is time to correct the mistakes of the past and to combat the systemic injustices of our time. Fulfilling our promise not to leave anyone behind is possible. We must achieve it.

Official figures show that Mexico’s GDP registered a drop of 8.5 percent in 2020. Approximately 700,000 formal jobs were lost; however, at the beginning of the pandemic, 12 million people lost their income, between formal and informal jobs. Secondary activities, that is to say those of transformation, are those that suffered the greater contraction with a decrease of 10,2 percent on an annual basis. Among those activities, the sector most affected was construction with a 17.4 percent contraction.  

In 2021, we need to move from death to health; from disaster to reconstruction; and from despair to hope.

During the pandemic, digital technologies have enabled societies to continue to function and people to stay connected. But the pandemic has also revealed a huge gap in access to these tools, including the existence of large gender disparities.

The world entered the digital age decades ago, but there remains a fundamental challenge: to bridge the digital divide. Last year in Mexico, 87.5 percent of the population had a cellphone, 52 percent had internet and 43 percent had pay television. Ideally, everyone, anywhere, should have affordable, effective and secure access to the internet and all schools should be online as soon as possible.

A year of possibilities and hope. It is possible to build the Mexico we want. CANACINTRA is a fundamental part of this. But we need to do it with energy and, of course, with all the strength of the industry.

Photo by:   Enoch Castellanos