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Campeche: experience and competitiveness

Interview - June 5, 2014
While the World Bank points to Campeche as the perfect investment destination, Mexico's energy capital applauds the energy reform, redoubles its efforts to attract tourism and celebrates its cultural diversity. As a state ready for great challenges and endowed with a special charisma, Governor of Campeche Fernando Ortega Bernés talks to United World.
2013 was marked by a weak economic performance, but 2014 started with strong results. It is estimated that the economy will grow between 3 and 4%, and in 2020 Mexico is expected to surpass Brazil. Could Mexico really become Latin America's largest economy?

Governor: The answer is yes. After many years, Mexico has achieved consensus with the participation of different political forces as well as reforms led by the president. Without a doubt, these reforms have an extraordinary potential. They summon all the determination to propel changes that Mexico has needed for many years. From 2014 onwards, Mexico will grow very significantly.

Never before have we invested similar amounts of money in infrastructure, communications and energy. On this occasion, we also included tourism. We look to consolidating our expectations with regard to this sector.

There has been much talk about our expectations, but also about our challenges related to security. It is important to be aware of this problem. There are many countries whose crime rates exceed the Mexican ones. Perhaps we should have placed more emphasis on our high expectations for economic growth and mentioned this challenge in its exact dimension. In the international perception of our country, insecurity is a marginal element. At present the efforts of different governmental institutions are fully coordinated. The most essential thing is that Mexico is capable of constructing the scenery of peace and tranquility.

If Houston is seen as the world's energy capital, Campeche hast the same status in Mexico. The production may have gone down (it used to stand at 2.5 million barrels per day), but now there is strong determination to increase it to past levels. What does the ambitious energy reform mean for Campeche? What kind of investment do you expect?

PEMEX could not keep on working in a reality, in which constitutional norms and secondary laws did not provide adequate conditions to develop its full potential. Besides, PEMEX, the company all Mexicans are proud of, needs to be modernized at the right pace and at the right time with the possibilities offered by state-of-the-art technology.

The reform will allow PEMEX to invest more in the challenges of production and transformation. Without giving up the sovereignty over petroleum, Mexico should support international alliances to promote new conditions allowing greater economic development and intensive oil exploitation.

Mexico's opportunities are being brought up to date with legal and technological means which will allow us to exploit all the possibilities of the energy sector.

The infrastructure is a key factor and Campeche has a great potential.

The energy reform is much more than good news. At present, Campeche's logistic platform supplying the operations of oil extraction is the most skilled, experienced and valuable one in Mexico. The experience gathered and the value of the industry, as well as that of related services, are going to strengthen the economy and increase employment, investment and wealth.

The unemployment rate in Spain has reached 25%. In Mexico it stands at 4% while Campeche is the state with the smallest unemployment at 2,6%.

Statistics present Campeche in a very favorable way. Our oil extraction area has a positive effect on the state's overall performance. But in other regions the challenge is to create new opportunities. The oil industry reform will result in new development opportunities for other sectors, for example farming and food production, tourism and industry.
For this reason, our vision in terms of employment is to generate opportunities through federal and state funding in two ports in the Gulf of Mexico: the Gulf of Carmen with the largest maritime traffic in Mexico, and the port of Seyva Playa, very close to the current production area. Campeche has many competitive advantages in this field.

Campeche is a World Heritage Site, but tourists prefer to visit other nearby states. What actions are taken to attract more international tourists?

We participate in all travel and tourism trade shows around the world. But as you know, all efforts related to tourism promotion produce results in the long run. We promote birdwatching tours with great response around the world. Our main attractions also include ecotourism, the majesty of the Maya cultural heritage, the Spanish language and our natural resources. We offer tourists the possibility to practice sport fishing, birdwatching, hiking and other activities.

The United States is the main investor in Mexico, the US is also the destination for 80% of Mexican exports and the country of origin of the most tourists. What is the significance of the US for Campeche's economy?

It is a major one. This is why we have made a lot of effort to promote Campeche in the US. We also did so in Europe, but today the US is of primary importance.

You have mentioned the numbers related to education, which has been one of the largest investments during your term of office. What is being done to provide Campeche with the best education?

The education reform represents the same challenges for all states. The education coverage has reached a satisfactory level. The challenge is to join different efforts that are still scattered all over Mexico and create conditions which will lay the foundation for a quality education. At the moment we are planning to establish a center for investigation and technological development, in response to Campeche's interest in the development of science and technology.

The World Bank indicates that Campeche is one of the best places to invest. The training of human resources is also crucial for investors. We would love to know what are the characteristics of people from Campeche.

The distinctive feature of Campeche's inhabitants is their kindness. In the case of Campeche, the word "Campechano" not only means a person who was born here, but also a certain type of personality. In my opinion, this personality is defined by the great joy with which Campechanos receive visitors.

Mexico owes part of what it is today to Campeche. It's where the country's heart is. There are many indigenous cultural minorities here. How do you work for the benefit of the population as a whole and for the interests of specific groups? What is it like to be the governor of a state with such a diverse population?

Campeche is really many Campeches. It comprises at least five clearly defined regions whose areas vary greatly. Its population is small but heterogeneous, which accounts for its cultural diversity. However, even though there are few of us, we are one great family. As a governor, I am really close to people.

In conclusion, what motivates you, what makes you excited when you arrive in your office and work to build new Campeche, new Mexico?

It is a privilege to be part of this generation and to participate in the great transformation process of Mexico. For civil servants like myself, it is a true honor to walk this historic path together with Peña Nieto. Also, the purpose of my job, to generate better conditions for Campeche's economic progress and for the benefit of the society, is incredibly motivating.

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Nobumasa Ishiai

President and CEO, ABLIC Inc. Senior Managing Executive Officer, MinebeaMitsumi Inc. (Parent Company of ABLIC)



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