Puerto Chiapas, one of the new economic zones. Puerto Chiapas, one of the new economic zones.

Investment of $5.3bn expected in zones

President signs decrees for three of the new special economic zones

Three special economic zones in southeastern Mexico are forecast to benefit from US $5.3 billion in private-sector investment and create 12,000 new jobs over the next three years.

President Enrique Peña Nieto yesterday signed decrees for the creation of the zones in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz; Lázaro Cárdenas-La Unión, Michoacán; and Puerto Chiapas, Chiapas. He described it as a “great milestone” for the southern region of the country.

Peña Nieto said the zones, modeled on similar initiatives in other parts of the world, were designed to encourage the development of the poorest areas of the country and allow them to catch up to other regions.

While central, western and northern Mexico are job-creating areas, the south has fallen behind for decades.

“We want to change that reality and allow the south to have the same development and growth opportunities as the rest [of Mexico],” said the president.

The task at hand is not an “easy or fast” one, he said, and its results will not be seen during his administration. “We’re sowing in fertile ground . . . where an economic model is most needed.”

The plan is to drop welfare policies that only mitigate poverty by shifting the focus to productive investment, capital formation and education.

“That is the Mexico and the reality I visualize for the future of southern Mexico; for Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca,” said Peña Nieto.

The special economic zones will offer incentives to attract investment and educational institutions.

The man in charge of the agency responsible for getting the zones going said interest is high. Gerardo Gutiérrez Candiani said about 200 companies are considering investing and 35 have expressed an “advanced” interest.

There are four zones in total but the fourth, Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, and a corridor linking it to Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, was not part of yesterday’s decree. Candiani said the earthquake on September 7 has caused delays.

Source: Vanguardia (sp), Panam Post (en)

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