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US and Mexican officials met in Tabasco on Wednesday to discuss economic investment in southern states. Mexican and US officials met in Tabasco on Wednesday to discuss economic investment in southern states.

US $25bn in investment sought for southeastern states to stem migration

The investment is intended to trigger economic growth in six states

Southeastern states are looking for billions of dollars in investment over the next three years as Mexican and United States authorities seek to spur development and stem migration from the region.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier and governors of several states met with United States Ambassador Ken Salazar and representatives of U.S. companies in Villahermosa, Tabasco, on Wednesday to discuss a plan for the development of the region.

The ministries of Foreign Affairs (SRE) and Economy (SE) said in a joint statement that the “productive dialogue” set a goal of US $25 billion in investment between 2022 and 2024 “to trigger economic growth” in Mexico’s southeast, a region that includes the states of Veracruz, Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo.

“To achieve it, an action plan, which the Economy Ministry will be in charge of, will be established soon,” the statement said.

The SRE and SE said the aim of the meeting with Mexico-based executives of U.S. companies — Constellation Brands, General Electric, Fedex, Honeywell and Amazon among them — was to “increase trade and investment to inject greater prosperity into the region.”

“… At the same time, the governors presented a panorama of their states, as well as the challenges and opportunities to boost the region hand in hand with our main trading partner [the United States] and the federal executive,” the ministries said.

Veracruz Governor Cuitláhuac García said that migration is a phenomenon that poses challenges for both Mexico and the United States and creating a solution is a shared responsibility. Chiapas Governor Rutilio Escandón said his state needs more industry to create jobs and stem northward migration.

“… I’m sure that [U.S. companies] will be able to make good use of people who want to work,” he said.

Campeche Governor Layda Sansores called on southeastern states to work together to spur economic growth.

“If we formed a great alliance … we wouldn’t need anything from the rest of the country; we have water, oil, gas, tourism, culture and the generosity of our people,” she said.

However, Economy Minister Clouthier said the aim of the development plan is to diversify the region’s economy with a particular focus on the manufacture of products for export.

Foreign Minister Ebrard said Mexico and the United States enjoy a close relationship and noted that the Mexican government has already invited its U.S. counterpart to invest in the south of the country and Central America as part of efforts to stem migration flows, which have reached record levels in Mexico this year.

Indeed, the U.S. government last month agreed to support the Sembrando Vida (Sowing Life) tree-planting employment program and the Youths Building the Future apprenticeship scheme in southern Mexico and Central America, although it’s unknown how much funding it will provide.

High-ranking Mexican and U.S. officials have met on several occasions in recent months, including at bilateral meetings in Washington D.C. and Mexico City.

During a visit to the Mexican capital in June, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said that Mexico and the United States are “embarking on a new era” in bilateral relations, and the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a strategic partnership to address the lack of economic opportunities in northern Central America.

After another high-level meeting in Mexico City this month, the two nations proposed “a new vision of regional security and collaboration,” releasing a joint statement in which they pledged to take concrete actions to “protect our people,” prevent transborder crime, and pursue criminal networks.

With reports from El Financiero and Forbes México 

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