Mexico ranks as the 12th economy worldwide, yet it still lags behind in infrastructre. The World Economic Forum places it in 68th place out of 144 countries. This imbalance is something that President Peña Nieto’s $316 billion “transformational” six-year infrastructure plan aims to redress.
New and improved roads, railways, ports and telecoms infrastructure, for example, will pave the way for boosting competitiveness, exports and economic growth. For Luis Zarate Rocha, National President of the Mexican Chamber of the Construction Industry (CMIC), investment in this area is the “best investment a country can make.”
“Infrastructure is the catalyst for growth in any country. It generates a huge number of jobs and it moves the productive chain – not only in construction but in all related activities. Infrastructure that is built is the only asset that stays forever. Nobody can take away a highway or a bridge; they stay put to the country’s benefit,” says Mr. Zarate.
“The government has a very clear medium and long-term vision. It’s imperative that we plan our growth. The worst investment is the kind that’s made in infrastructure that’s never finished or that leads to nowhere.”
The CMIC has been lending the government a hand in helping to identify projects and their social impact, profitability, financial and technical viability, and of course their environmental impact.
|“Fluor [corporation] is one of the largest of its kind in the world, yet it knew how to partner with a mexican company as peers. ica fluor is today the top builder in mexico and carries out most of pemex’s construction projects”|
Luis Zarate Rocha
National President of the Mexican Chamber of the Construction Industry
Aside from filling the gaps in national infrastructure, Mexico also has a housing deficit of 9 million homes. Mr. Zarate points out that the government has a new housing policy that encourages the building of adequate housing.
“Decent housing means that the dwelling must have services and support sustainable urban development. These rules will apply starting in 2014. I understand that some companies’ interests have been affected, but in these modern times, we all have to adapt our business models,” he says.
Mr. Zarate would like to see more equitable collaboration with U.S. companies in which both parties share their own unique expertise with each other.
He cites the Grupo ICA-Fluor Corporation partnership as a model.
“Fluor is one of the largest of its kind in the world, yet it knew how to partner with a Mexican company as peers. ICA Fluor is today the top builder in Mexico and carries out most of Pemex’s construction projects,” he explains. “Nowadays, ICA Fluor – where there are only maybe five or six expats working – can compete with any foreign company in the fields of petroleum and petrochemicals. We need more examples like this.”
The CMIC has more than 10,000 member companies, of which 93% are SMEs. The Chamber also runs Mexico’s most important private training school, the Construction Industry Training Institute (ICIC). Yearly, the ICIC offers 2.5 million man hours of training at all levels – from operatives to technicians to managers and directors.