Interview with Ambassador Jose Luis Bernal of Mexico
Ambassador Jose Luis Bernal of Mexico in Seoul said that the summit meeting between the Presidents of Korea and Mexico greatly contributes to the promotion of relations and cooperation between the two counties. Ambassador Bernal made the statement at a recent interview with The Korea Post on the occasion of the Independence Day of Mexico on Sept. 16, 2016. Details of the interview follow:
Question: Please introduce the results of the summit meeting between the Presidents of Korea and Mexico.
Answer: The multiple affinities and common vision shared by Korea and Mexico represents the driving spirit of the most recent visit of President Park Geun-hye to Mexico last April. In a moment in which international economic prospects and security threats pose new challenges to our respective countries and regions, and to world peace, this new high level meeting provided a magnificent opportunity to strengthen cooperation in support of our respective development goals and to reaffirm our shared commitment to international stability, peace and prosperity.
President Park Geun-hye´s official visit to Mexico was also a very good opportunity for our two leaders to open a new era in our bilateral relations. The political dialogue at the highest level centered around three major chapters:
a) The two leaders took stock of the enormous progress our bilateral relationship has registered in every sector in the last few years;
b) The Presidents also confirmed our two countries´ commitment to continue strengthening the Strategic Partnership we initiated back ten years ago;
c) Finally, our both governments resolved to set new goals for cooperation and joint action ?on both bilateral and global matters- for the years to come.
During the presidential summit, 22 new agreements were signed in sectors as diverse as science, technology, agriculture, energy, water, intellectual property, ICT, telecommunications, the pharmaceutical and auto industries, tourism, cultural exchanges, the creative industries, health and social security matters. Also, new financing mechanisms were adopted and innovative agreements were adopted on the areas of law enforcement and the fight against transnational organized crime. It was also agreed that our two countries will expand the current cooperation program for the exchange of good practices and knowledge on various chapters of public policy and development, focusing particularly on education.
On the economic and trade areas, outstandingly, President Pe?a Nieto confirmed Mexico's support to the eventual accession of Korea to the Trans Pacific Partnership, the TPP, and our two Presidents decided that, at the end of this year, high level talks will be held to evaluate the possibility of launching negotiations for a bilateral FTA.
President Park Geun-hye was accompanied by a high level delegation of business leaders, close to 150 business representatives, together with the official delegation. During the visit, three additional agreements were signed by KOIMA and KOTRA with ProM?xico and the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology (COMCE).
Among the most promising new agreements, we welcome the increasing interest of Korean companies on Mexico’s infrastructure projects. Opportunities were examined at the area of transporting rail roads, port facilities and highway construction and modernization. Also, a new joint committee was established on Trade, Investment and Cooperation on Industry and Energy Sectors.
Within the context of the official discussions, our countries resolved on new efforts to increase and consolidate our historical bonds by updating our framework for cooperation in the cultural and sports fields as well as in the cultural and creative industries, which seek to boost the cultural capacity of both countries in those sectors.
Mexico and Korea agreed also on the subscription of an agreement on Higher Education, aiming to increase our exchanges in educational cooperation and provide support to the, to this date, 176 cooperation agreements in force between universities of both countries. With the agreements completed during the visit of President Park, we will look to increase the number of Korean and Mexican students, artists and creatives choosing each other’s countries as an attractive destination for the expansion of their capacities and the promotion of wider ties of friendship.
Q: What is the volume of bilateral trade what is the outlook of its further growth?
A: As it regards to Mexico and Korea’s bilateral trade, the annual volumes of commercial exchanges have stood above the $15 billion dollars figure in the last few years. Last year, our trade registered a big increase, when it was more than $17 billion dollars, which represents an increase close to 20 percent in one year. For Mexico, this means that Korea is our sixth largest trade partner in the world, after the USA, China, Canada, Japan and Germany. For Korea, Mexico has become one of the ten biggest destinations for Korea´s exports in the world. Mexico is the number one economic partner in Latin America and the only country in the region with which it has established a Strategic Association.
On the investment side, it is worth recalling the increasing number of Korean companies producing in Mexico. Nowadays, more than 1,700 Korean companies have joint ventures in Mexico, which means two things: on the one hand, it means job relation, local development and technological cooperation; on the other hand, it also means that, together, we are creating global value chains, both for the benefit of our respective domestic markets and for the sake of reaching out to the most dynamic international markets to which Mexico is linked through its vast network of trade agreements.
Q: Korea and Mexico enjoy a very close relationship of cooperation. Please explain the Korea-Mexico partnership.
A: Mexico and Korea have been working throughout the recent years, with the expansion of our strategic partnerships across more diverse fields of cooperation with the addition of innovative and broader projects, including initiatives of triangular cooperation to countries Central American and the Caribbean for the control and management of atmospheric pollution, for example, or the exchange of good practices from the Korean Government to Mexico’s Public Function Secretary on the transferring of South Korean know-how in the e-government sector, to name a few.
Mexico recognizes that as like-minded countries who seek to play a more active and responsible role in global affairs and share a parallel mission to ensure a brighter future for our peoples. Promoting peace and the values of democracy, respect of the rule of law, human rights and liberties, international cooperation, the fight against poverty and crime, promoting sustainable development and integration are only some of the important coincidences between our nations.
Our common interest is reflected as well in the promotion of the Global Agenda for Development, in concerted actions in the United Nations system, and in the promotion of MIKTA, a novel group of like-minded nations (Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia) aiming to exert a positive influence in the multilateral agenda.
Furthermore to our institutional framework, worth it is to emphasize that more and more people in Korea and Mexico are discovering everyday each other’s vibrant culture, both ancient and modern. Mexico's cultural presence in Korea has increased substantially; in the last 2 years the Embassy of Mexico organized more than 35 activities within a diverse range of artistic disciplines with a record audience of over one hundred thousand persons.
Also, in 2015-2016 the Embassy has provided sponsorship and support to more than 150 cultural activities aimed to promote Mexican cultural expressions in music, visual arts, dancing, literature, film, photography, and gastronomy ?whose popularity is rising with more Mexican style restaurants opening all over the country.
Prominent examples of the extent and relevance of these exchanges are the exhibition “Diego Rivera, Pride of Mexico” concluded in august 2015, that displayed 2
the work of one of Mexico’s most accomplished painters at the Sejong Center Museum of Art in Seoul, or the undergoing exhibition of Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera inaugurated by the Seoul Arts Center on May 28th and that will conclude on August 28th, 2016, with an outstanding involvement of the local audiences. On December, the Embassy, in collaboration with the Korea Foundation, will showcase in Seoul a photographic collection comprising different works of the Casasola’s files on the life and work of some of the most brilliant and widely recognized artists of the prolific Mexican 20th century.
At the same time, Korea’s Hallyu continues attracting the attention of thousands of Mexicans who massively attend concerts of K-Pop throughout Mexico, as the Korean cuisine becomes popular among the trendiest neighborhoods in Mexican cities and the existing sporting ties are braced by our new generations, including Taekwondo and archery where Mexico prides itself on having several world champions.
Q: Please explain the historical aspect of relationship between Korea and Mexico.
A: Based on multiple historical and core affinities, the Republic of Korea and M?xico resolved on the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1962, inaugurating an outstanding stage of friendship and cooperation that has been constantly growing through time. As we celebrate the first 54 years of this meaningful relationship, Mexico acknowledges that our many areas of coincidence, rather than difference, have allowed us to move forward to a more solid relation in benefit of our peoples.
Since 2005, when both countries convened on the establishment of a Strategic Partnership for Mutual Prosperity in the XXI Century, bilateral exchanges have notably developed, as evidenced by the growing number of commercial exchanges, joint ventures, high-level reciprocal visits and many other exchanges.
Korea and Mexico distinguish themselves as emerging responsible actors, assuming broader responsibilities on the global agenda, and promoting more than ever their mutual cooperation and economic, political and cultural relations. Our two countries are placed among the fifteen largest economies in the world and they are recognized for their tireless activism in international affairs and for assuming their responsible role as global actors.
In the case of Mexico, under the administration of President Enrique Pe?a Nieto, our country has been immersed in an extensive process of structural reforms, enabled at the beginning of the current administration by the materialization of the Pacto por M?xico (Pact for Mexico), as a historical pact by which the nation’s three main political forces agreed on a series of structural reforms and other initiatives aim at reshuffling and modernizing key sectors to the economic and social development of Mexico. The pact comprises of three central axes: a) the strengthening of the Mexican state; b) political and economic democratization; and c) the enforcement and expansion of social rights. Within those areas, the top reforms achieved by Pe?a Nieto’s government include the overhauling of Mexico’s education system; a major change in the country’s energy system and a comprehensive fiscal reform that seeks to diversify the income sources and reduce the estate’s dependency on petrol revenue.
Q: What is the status of cultural relations between Korea?
A: Bilateral relations are also enriched by the growing interest in each other’s culture: by the end of 2015, Mexico received more 100,000 Korean visitors, an increase of 25% compared with 2014, while the number of Mexicans visiting Korea increased by more than 19%. This excellent outcome, replicates the recent reports of the World Tourism Organization positioning Mexico as the 9th touristic destination in the world, for having received 32.1 million visitors during 2015; an increase of 9.5% when compared to 2014. With a wide and attractive offer of touristic spots that go from such diverse landscapes as the Sierra Madre, passing by the Sonora dessert and Chiapas’ tropical forest, among many others, Mexico has become one of the most privileged destinations for Korean travelers and honeymooners.
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