Mexico has only a handful of moguls or politicians who are well-known beyond the country’s borders. At this point, everyone has heard of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), and many will know the name Carlos Slim, who has been one of the world’s richest people since the 1990s (and at one point, was the richest person in the world). But beyond these two prominent figures, most foreigners would be challenged to come up with others.
I think the name Samuel García Sepúlveda is one that might eventually join these ranks. This up and coming, pro-business politician is someone you should get to know. García is the governor of Nuevo León, one of the country’s major manufacturing hubs and home to the city of Monterrey, the third largest in the nation. Why is García one to watch?
1. Samuel García is young
García is only 35 years old, and won the governorship at age 33. His wife, Mariana Rodríguez, is 27 years old, and is a popular influencer. García’s youth, his wife’s visibility, and their comfort level with social media have allowed the couple to connect with both García’s constituents as well as Mexicans more broadly.
2. Samuel García is pro-business
At a time when manufacturers are looking towards Mexico as a destination for nearshoring investment, García is most certainly in the right place at the right time.
Nuevo León has a large and growing manufacturing base, contributing nearly 10% of the nation’s exports last year. According to information from the Nuevo León Economy Ministry, the state received US $13 billion in investment between October 2021 and April 2023. These investments will generate an estimated 88,000 new jobs with 135 companies.
The state came in second only to Mexico City in 2022 in its share of the country’s foreign direct investment (FDI) at 12% of the national total. García has predicted that the amount of FDI in his state will more than double in 2023, reaching US $12 billion. Last year, Nuevo León exports were valued at more than US $51 billion, 23% more than the previous year.
The icing on this cake was the March announcement that Nuevo León secured the largest and arguably highest-profile foreign investment project in Mexico’s recent history: a Tesla gigafactory.
3. Samuel García is more than willing to travel outside Mexico
President López Obrador is sometimes mocked (or commended) for his limited travel outside of the country during his term. Just last week he reiterated his view that “the best foreign policy is domestic policy.”
In his five years in office, he has only visited the United States, Central America and Cuba. García, on the other hand, appears sometimes to function as de facto Secretary of State or Commerce Secretary with all of his international travel. In his first two years as governor, he traveled throughout Europe, attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, went on a trade mission to Korea and Taiwan, visited Egypt, took multiple trips to the United States and Canada, and last week, toured India.
4. Samuel García is constantly promoting Mexico’s “brand”
García has defended the amount he travels by saying “nothing sells itself”, and has worked tirelessly to try to position both Nuevo León and Mexico as vitally important destinations for global investment. I think Mexico has a real opportunity to better promote itself on the world stage, and García is getting the message out there.
5. Samuel García does not represent one of the major political parties
As AMLO’s Morena party continues to consolidate power nationwide, the key opposition parties (the PRI, PAN, and PRD) have formed a coalition. García represents a lesser known and smaller party called Movimiento Cuidadano (Citizens Movement). This party, while small in numbers, holds the governorships of two key Mexican states: Nuevo León and Jalisco (governed by Enrique Alfaro).
Nuevo León is getting a lot of attention right now. It’s wealthy, with a per capita GDP that is 73% higher than the national average, and it’s growing faster than other states. It’s also led by a charismatic and media-savvy politician from a minority party.
We are seeing only the beginnings of Samuel García’s career, which may take him far in years to come.