Monday, Oct 23, 2017
Government | North America & Caribbean | Mexico

Chihuahua the economic power of the desert


3 years ago

Chihuahua
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César Horacio Duarte Jáquez

Governor of Chihuahua

With its strategic location in the north of Mexico, Chihuahua has managed to restore peace and is making ambitious plans. The state which gave rise to the Mexican Revolution has become the leader in direct foreign investment and unstoppable exporter. Competitive and rich in natural resources, the economic power of the desert has extremely promising prospects.

The profound process of transformation happening in Mexico has attracted considerable international attention. What is the importance of these historic constitutional reforms, related to communications, energy, taxes and education, for Mexico's interests?

The education reform is an essential tool for us. We took the precaution of preparing the new generations for the moment in which the reforms would be in place. That is to say, we did not wait to extract oil, in order to train engineers or technicians. We did not wait for experts from other parts of the world to come and exploit our oil fields either. Instead we prepared ourselves to comply with the reforms by investing in new generations of trained professionals.

I suppose that this is the reason why Chihuahua has made a name for itself in terms of innovation in Mexico. And perhaps this is also one of the factors that attract so much direct foreign investment.

Chihuahua's leadership in direct foreign investment has undoubtedly set a clear precedent in Mexico. It's a national leadership. We have received over $1.5 billion, which proves that we have won the trust of our investors. The culture of manufacturing shows that our society supports this export industry. As a result, Chihuahua has become Mexico's largest exporter of manufactured goods and industrial products, surpassing the states that used to be traditional leaders in these activities. This tells a lot about Chihuahua's capacity.

What are the benefits, the advantages that the state of Chihuahua offers to US investors who consider coming to Mexico to establish their companies here?

It is the quality of our workforce, the tranquility, the security and peace that we have restored in Chihuahua, the responsibility of our workers to be efficient and competitive in relation to any other workforce in the world (and ours is also a skilled workforce).
We also have industrial, commercial and logistic infrastructure reaching across our borders, which allows us to exchange merchandise with the US conveniently. We are also building a new bridge and a new port which will connect us with the US. We maintain an excellent relationship with the state of New Mexico, in terms of communication and mercantile exchange. They have invested around 800 million dollars in our railway industry, so that the products manufactured in Chihuahua can be delivered to the US in good condition and with greater agility.

Chihuahua has great potential to develop agriculture and animal husbandry. Then, there is Sierra Madre, one of the state's green lungs, providing the entire country with oxygen and water. In what ways are you working in animal husbandry as well as in agriculture, taking into account the large number of consumers in the north and considering the National Crusade against Hunger – the program that takes priority for the presidency?

The most essential matters on our agenda have been infrastructure and education; they allow us to make the best of our natural resources. As far as animal husbandry is concerned, we have initiated a real crusade related to plant and animal health. Today we hold different types of important certification. This has allowed us to have the best livestock prices in Mexico. It was also our genetics and health strategy that allowed us to offer meat of the highest quality. We obtained very positive results thanks to the action we started taking 3 years ago. Chihuahua's livestock is the best one in Mexico and the US is a major buyer.

The same applies to agriculture. The exports of onions, chillies and many other goods, such as wood, required by the US, are all exports of natural and organic products of the highest quality. 

You have mentioned the US. It is a very important market. It is also world's number one economy and a country with which you share 900 km of border.

Yes, it is the world's largest market and we have to capitalize on the culture we share on the border and make the best of our proximity. Mainly in order to convince our northern neighbors that they, too, will benefit from a good relationship with us. It is one of the most essential things we need to achieve.

Incidentally, the City of Chihuahua has just been removed from the list of dangerous cities by the US. What did it mean to appear on that list and what does it imply to be removed from it?

It meant great shame. Nobody likes it when their home is considered to be a dangerous place. This is how we felt, and all our effort to make a change was worth it. As many as 570 policemen died in this war, and it is because of them and their families that it is still worth it to continue fighting. We left the list of the most dangerous places, and it shows that all these lives were not lost in vain.

This means that we are discussing a completely different agenda; we no longer focus on insecurity. Today we are talking about our resources, opportunities, about attracting investment, being trustworthy, receiving visitors, about showing that we are great hosts and we're extremely kind, about making the best of our culture and ancient history.

Without a doubt, there is also American influence, our neighborhoods, the migration and coming and going from one territory to another, working, studying, and traveling together. But the fact that the US has lifted the warning, the fact that we can announce to the world that we are a peaceful state and that we have new technologies for industry (and this makes us competitive, to the extent that our gas is five times cheaper than in Asia, and ready to receive investment) is crucial for any economic activity.

I would love to know how your career developed, now that you are at the right point to talk about it, to take a look back and reflect on your errors and success. What is your new obsession? What direction is Chihuahua heading for?

It is very difficult for me to talk about myself. But it becomes very easy when I am given the words I can use. I feel very proud of my state. What drove me to engage in politics was the ambition to transform Chihuahua using all its capacities and strengths. It is an enormous state, larger than many European countries, larger than the entire Central America, a state with most economic activities in its reach. It is also a state that has suffered terribly because of the large distance from federal decision-making and because of its geographic location, due to enemy strikes and invasions (such as the ones carried out by the US on more than one occasion).

These are my roots, this is what drove me to participate in politics: to see my state lag behind because in spite of all our resources we did not have the capacity to use them to our advantage.

We can be proud of the fact that we are one of the states with the largest economic growth in Mexico. We are also the state that obtains the most investment and achieves the biggest exports. We constitute only 3% of Mexico's population, and yet our contribution to GDP is nearly two times higher than that of an average citizen. This describes us as a state that really wants to contribute to Mexico's growth and put the economic stagnation behind it. This is the passion that motivates me in politics. We're putting the darkest moment in Chihuahua's contemporary history – the violence – behind us.

Things have changed completely, but we are not confident or satisfied in any way. We're focusing on the oncoming two and a half years of my term of office, trying to achieve tangible results through education, infrastructure, the reforms promoted by the president, improving the level and quality of people's lives.

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