Javier Duarte Ochoa, Governor of the state of Veracruz, highlights the strategic positioning and infrastructure of this entity that serves as the nucleus for 80% of the country's petrochemical industry; it controls the largest gas reserves and the second largest oil reserves. Naturally positioned as the triumphant gateway to the Mexican market, they’re betting on innovation, tourism and training to continue growing steadily and attracting investment.
There exists a very significant desire on the part of the Ministry of the Interior to favor policies that contribute to greater national unity and integration. What is your opinion on this?
In a federalized country such as Mexico, cooperation and coordination between all levels of government is necessary.
We have a plan that's shared with the Government of the Republic: Boost development in the social, economic, agricultural, and business arena…
Veracruz is one of the pillars of development in Mexico, because of our great economic and commercial activity: We have three ports on the Gulf of Mexico, including the country's most important one, the port of Veracruz -- for which there is a plan to triple its capacity, strengthening its position as Latin America's main port. That fact speaks clearly to the economic growth that is coming to Veracruz, a result of public investment, that will lead to private investment and job creation.
In this very month [of May], for example, the highway and the harbor terminal will be completed, which will increase and improve communication and economic activity between northern Veracruz, the Valley of Mexico, and foreign nations.
It is important that Mexico make use of its strategic location to become a logistics center of international stature. In this sense, Veracruz -- as you mentioned -- has the most important ports in Mexico…
Our ports and the petrochemical field have in recent times had resounding technological and innovative advances. In the north we have the port of Tuxpan, which is the port of the metropolitan area of Mexico City. In the center, we have the port of Veracruz, which is the most important in all of Latin America. And in the south, the port of Coatzacoalcos, which is the most modern and important port when it comes to the petrochemical industry. The most important Mexican refineries are located there. Veracruz is one of the most important logistics centers in Latin America.
I emphasize energy reform because that is what will bring more benefits to Veracruz; we are the state that brings together 80% of the petrochemical industry, with the largest gas reserves and the second largest oil reserves. Furthermore, here every type of energy possible is produced. Ultimately, energy reform means employment, development, wellfare, improvement in the people's quality of life. In fact, even without having finished implementing the changes, private
investment has already begun to arrive. In Coatzacoalcos, a Mexican group -- alongside an American one -- has already invested 4.5 billion dollars and created 14,000 jobs.
What sort of facilitation is offered to encourage foreign investment in Veracruz?
The government of Veracruz has risen 13 spaces in the World Bank's "Doing Business" rankings. Opening a company in Veracruz today takes 48 hours. Thus far during my administration we have had zero strikes. The climate for private capital and investment is auspicious.
We are developing the 1000 Large Businesses program and have already implemented about 650. I promised in my campaign to create 400,000 new jobs and we already have 260,000 in just over three years.
You are working on a partnership with MIT. What are the mechanisms through which such initiatives contribute to better training for workers?
MIT is one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. The first thing we want to do is take advantage of its capabilities, its experience, and its intelligence, and to streamline processes that make us more efficient. We must ensure that young Veracruz residents have access to quality institutions like MIT. Today, Veracruz is living in a very important time for higher education. We not only have a high-quality public university, we also have the best technical schools in Mexico.
How are you managing to achieve sustainable development, to the point that you are are made out to be a star even in an industry that traditionally has had such bad press?
We created the State Department of the Environment -- that previously did not exist. We have been promoting public policies such as environmental recovery, the establishment of protected areas of nature... We have the most important reserves of freshwater in Mexico (35% of the country's fresh water passes through Veracruz). We intend to build an aqueduct to Monterrey. We have a responsibility to deliver these resources in good condition to future generations. The Biodiversity Summit held here brought together 150 countries and more than 300 experts in the field.
What does the agribusiness sector represent for the economic interests of the state in the six-year crusade against hunger?
In Veracruz we produce 40% of all of Mexico’s food. We have great diversity of production, with leadership in citrus fruits, pineapple, corn, sugar, rice, cereals, cattle, poultry, pigs, etc. We offer all kinds of seafood, even though in this sector the decline in prices has resulted in a decrease in activity, partly due to competition with the Pacific coast, where lower quality products are sold with which we cannot compete on price.
Veracruz is the most important agro-livestock state and we will continue supporting this industry, which frames the crusade against hunger…
Veracruz is an excellent tourist destination. What are the policies in place to maintain this situation and promote an increase in foreign tourism?
Our strategy has three aspects. The first is promotion. We must promote our natural resources, our traditions, our culture, our identity. We are a very happy people, proud of our traditions and enthusiastic, and we like to welcome everyone who visits our land.
The second is the development of infrastructure. We have built major highways, which will provide access to beaches just two and a half hours from Mexico City. We need to build more and built better… To increase the flow of tourists, we also need to build new attractions and promote those that we already have, such as the Veracruz Aquarium, which is the most important in Latin America, and the Naval Museum. In addition, we have several heritage sites recognized by UNESCO.
The third aspect is the assistance that we are giving investors so they will construct infrastructure for tourists: New hotels, shopping centers… We want, ultimately, for all this activity to lift the names of Veracruz and Mexico.
What does it mean for Veracruz to be hosting the next summit for Latin America’s heads of State and Government?
Veracruz is the most Latin American state in Mexico. We are the front door; here is the crucible in which Mexican culture is based. Here, an independent Mexico was born and here the Spanish crown had its last stronghold. Mexico cannot be understood without Veracruz because all of Mexico's history has gone through Veracruz. We are the gateway to exports and trade. Because of all this, and by the nature of the event, I think Veracruz is the ideal setting and space. We are proud.