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Enrique Peña Nieto's 'economy first' strategy for Mexico would also help US

Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office on Saturday, wants to put the economy first, which will require addressing the onslaught of the narco mafia in a very different way from his predecessor. This new approach has great potential for Mexico. The US should embrace it.

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Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto speaks during the signing of a pact in Mexico City Dec. 2. The pact is with the country's leading political parties to increase competition in the telecommunications sector and overhaul education. Op-ed contributor Luis Rubio writes: If the new president is successful, 'he can create more and better paying jobs.' Then 'Mexicans will further import goods from the US and there will be much fewer Mexicans willing to move north.'

Edgard Garrido/Reuters

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Mexico confounds. If one watches the news, either here or in the United States, most of what comes out about this country is violence among the drug cartels. But if one looks at its economy, Mexico has become the largest trading partner of almost 30 US states.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office on Saturday, wants to change that mismatch by putting the economy first, which will require addressing the onslaught of the narco mafia in a very different way from his predecessor. This new approach has great potential, including improved public safety, and is one that Mexico’s northern neighbor should also embrace.

Mexico’s economy grew more than 4 percent each of the past two years and is on course to do the same in this one. More jobs were created in 2011 than ever before. Twenty years of hard work and reforming Mexico’s politics and economy are beginning to pay off.

Over the past two decades, Mexicans have seen their economy stabilize, new homes being built, new roads everywhere, exports growing rapidly, consumption increasing, and a strong middle class emerging. The government’s accounts show a very small debt and a tiny deficit. Elections are organized by an independent body, and the Supreme Court is widely respected. When one looks back, it is astounding how much the country has advanced.

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