SAN FRANCISCO DEL RINCON, Mexico—Mexicans are notoriously suspicious of their politicians and think most of them, including former presidents, are corrupt. However, ask some and most won’t say this is true about Vicente Fox.
Fox, very popular throughout his term from 2000 to 2006, was in fact the first president from a party other than the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which was mired in corruption after 71 years of uninterrupted rule.
During his term, he shunned Latin American socialist leaders and sought close cooperation with the United States in economic and security questions.
“I’m always for freedom in economy and I am always for a good solid public policy structure to motivate and incentivize businesses,” he said. During his tenure, Mexican GDP increased by 30 percent.
After his term ended in 2006, Fox focused on thought leadership and founded the Centro Fox, a presidential library and education center where he helps promote social and economic advancement to children and business leaders alike.
Epoch Times spoke to Fox about the country’s economic competitiveness, the mission and value of the Centro Fox, and how Mexico can solve its violent drug problem.
Epoch Times: You have always been closer to the United States than Latin American socialist leaders. Why?
Vicente Fox: I am always pro-market. I’m always for freedom in the economy and I am always for a good solid public policy structure to motivate and incentivize businesses.
So when I see countries like Venezuela or Ecuador or Argentina with this populism and demagoguery what I see is a very negative, pessimistic future for those economies and those nations.
Today in the world you don’t have to be a genius to discover that trading among economies with discipline and fundamental variables of openness, with a good friendly attitude between public sector and private sector is what brings wealth and what creates jobs.
So I’m always on that side and that’s why of course I’m pretty much in favor of the United States.
And almost every successful nation is very pragmatic. They speak about jobs. They speak about investment. They speak about wealth. They speak about education. They speak about health. I think in Latin America we waste much of our time discussing ideologies and this discussion about left or right or capitalism or communism.
What people are expecting from democracies and from governments is a job, better income, a school for my kids, health for my family, control of the environment, and protection of the environment. I think that we should forget a lot about ideologies.
Epoch Times: What are the reasons behind Mexico’s economic renaissance, especially compared to China?
Mr. Fox: Investment that flew out of Mexico to go to China 10 years ago now is coming back. Those manufacturing companies are coming back to Mexico. This is because China has become more costly and the productivity is not there anymore as it was some time ago. Why does Mexico benefit?
No. 1, because of NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement]. NAFTA is a key ingredient in this competitiveness. The Mexican economy has gained because you save a lot of money that went to duties and taxes. So NAFTA is very crucial.
In fact, when NAFTA started 20 years ago the gap between the income of families and workers on the U.S. side and the Mexican side was tenfold. So you would make $1 in Mexico and by crossing the border you would be making $10. That explains the migration phenomenon and issue.
Today, instead of 10 to 1 we have a 5 to 1. I can guess that in the future, maybe one more generation, 20–25 years from now that gap will be zero.
We will have a 1 to 1 situation like United States has to Canada. And then you solve problems on the border. Both economies will be benefitting from this. So NAFTA is a key factor that China doesn’t have with the United States, the largest market in the world.
Number two, I would say that it is our logistic costs. It’s not the same thing to move a vehicle manufactured in Mexico to the U.S. market than moving a car from China to the United States. The logistic cost is extremely low in the case of Mexico and the United States.
Finally, a factor that is becoming very important is time zones. Because it’s important for executives, for corporations when they travel abroad to have low cost on their traveling.