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Italy Sees ‘Huge Opportunity’ in Mexico

Giorgio Silli - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy
Deputy Minister


By Edoardo Papini | Commercial Director - Wed, 01/25/2023 - 13:35

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From manufacturing to the space sector, Mexico and Italy can use their experience and resources to benefit each other, says Italian Deputy Minister Silli during of his first visit to Mexico as Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs of the newly elected government of the Italian Republic.

Q: What are the main business opportunities that Italy sees in Mexico and how are you hoping to realize those?

A: The Mexico of today is totally different from the Mexico of 30 years ago. With 130 million inhabitants, a fast-growing internal market and an upward social mobility trend, Mexico presents a huge opportunity for Italian products. It is also the gateway to the US market and to Central and South America and offers an abundance of natural resources, manufacturing industries, renewable energy opportunities and investment opportunities for new technologies. Space is another opportunity and we are already developing an agreement between our two countries in this area, which is one of the businesses of the future.

The Mexican government is also positively inclined toward exploring opportunities for intensified collaboration. To that end, I’ve invited Mexico’s Deputy Minister of the Economy to visit Italy with a trade delegation to meet our business community and raise awareness of the opportunities for collaboration.

Mexico has excellent relations with the US, which is the world’s leading economy, it is connected with Canada through USMCA and it is in discussions on a trade agreement with the European Union. It is very much in our interest to try to explore and develop the opportunities that Mexico presents today. We also don’t want to just consider Mexico as a single market opportunity. USMCA is an important driver of regionalization and the construction of a productive fortress in North America. Producing in Mexico is an excellent way to bring Italian products to the North American market.

I am also here to invite Mexico to participate in the World Expo 2030, which we are hoping to organize in Rome after an amazingly successful World Expo in Milan in 2015. Hosting the World Expo in 2030 would open the opportunity for Italy to be a gateway to Europe for Mexico as well as an opportunity to raise awareness of the deep changes that Mexico has undergone.


Q: What can Mexico learn from Italy’s experience?

A: The message that we are constantly sending to the Mexican government and the Mexican business community is that Mexico has a production culture that is influenced by its proximity to the US, which on the one hand, is a blessing and on the other, it is a limitation to the development of truly Mexican products. What Mexico can learn from our experience and business culture is how to make their own products rather than just being part of the global value chain and making products that end up in the US.

Mexico has all the characteristics to create successful Made in Mexico brands across a wide range of industries, including gastronomy, design and furniture. Italians and Mexicans both are very creative people but industries that are very important in Italy, such as food and design, are not considered real businesses in Mexico. An important lesson that Mexicans can learn from our experience is how to become an autonomous producer of Made in Mexico products that are exported to the whole world, with the profits staying in Mexico.

Part of that necessitates accomplishing the transformation from public concessions and low labor costs to advancing its potential for research and development. After all, the Mexican education system produces more than 100,000 engineers annually who are working for international companies, including Italian investors. Why not bring together Mexican capabilities and Italian experience to create new products?

Our objective is to take advantage of our complementarities to deepen our bilateral relationship, moving beyond investment from Mexico in Italy and vice versa to create joint ventures based on common interests, complementarities and opportunities.


Q: What is an example of an Italian company that is creating opportunities in Mexico for Mexicans?

A: Barilla, a multinational Italian food company, is a very good example. Mexico is the only country in the world where Barilla does not own 100% of its business, and Barilla is present in most countries around the world. It entered the Mexican market because Grupo Herdez wanted to produce quality pasta and the two companies joined forces. Today, they produce pasta together that has the same quality as pasta produced in Italy.

There are also many professionals, such as Francesco Leoncini, who are building businesses in Mexico. Leoncini owns a glass-making business in Italy and brought his professional experience to Mexico. He now has a joint venture with a Mexican company that produces and exports glass products to North America. We need to multiply these successes because the potential is huge.

We don’t want to exploit Mexico; we are far more ambitious. We want to bring together Mexican and Italian business people to create new products and opportunities.


Q: How do you expect Mexico to evolve in the near term from a business sense?

A: Adam Smith’s invisible hand, the metaphor for the unseen forces that move the free market economy, will drive investment to Mexico since it is an attractive investment destination. Business people will arrive from all over the world, and Italy must be ready with joint ventures and a very close diplomatic relationship between Mexico and Europe. When you consider the demographics of Mexico, we must develop a successful medium and long-term relationship. The country’s greatest wealth is its young population of 130 million people, with an average age of 27 years old, and the ambition to improve their social condition. This is a very important power for change that will enable Mexico to surprise us in the coming years.

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