1997 Onwards -
Below is the text of Sir John Major’s speech to The Mexico Chamber of Commerce / COMCE, held at the Torre Mayor in Mexico City, on Monday 13th September 2010. The speech was entitled “UK and Mexico -
SIR JOHN MAJOR:
It’s always a pleasure to visit Mexico -
For two countries -
Today, we still have much in common. We’re both democracies. We’re free-
I could easily extend this list -
Instead, I want to refer to one other aspect we have in common: the fact that neither one of us has made as much of the Mexican-
Yes, trade and investment is growing. Yes, we exchange students. Yes, the political relationship is perhaps closer than ever before. I, myself, am here today at the specific request of the Prime Minister -
But we could -
Mexico is, for example, far easier to do business with than China, Brazil or Russia. The UK is the 5th largest economy in the world. Mexico is the 14th, and moving up rapidly. The scope for doing so much more is self-
And it is in both our national interests to do so, as the recent economic downturn has made clear. Mexico becomes less reliant on the US; the UK returns to a traditional Latin American market it has ignored for far too long. As a result, we both widen our markets.
In a global market, this could happen spontaneously. But we should not leave it to chance. That is why I am delighted that both our Governments are keen to promote greater mutual trade and investment, and I want to commend our Ambassador, Judith McGregor, and the British Embassy, Pro-
Why is it so important that we act now? Because the world is re-
Today, change is brutally swift. The leaders with whom I once worked are now part of history, although I still see many of them, including your former President, Ernesto Zedillo -
Another was Boris Yeltsin. Alas, no longer with us. Market economics were a mystery to Boris. Once asked him to tell me “State of Russia” in one word. “Good”, when asked in two words, “Not good”. Today we’re passing through a “not good” phase.
Let me look around the world in which Mexico and the UK must compete: The East, which was not highly indebted, is moving forward swiftly. The West, which was -
A recovery of sorts has been stimulated -
Some of this is becoming clear.
America first -
The UK and the EU are in a similar position, with one important difference which I will come to later.
The UK has a new Government -
Economically, the UK -
The new Government is already taking these tough decisions, and has made it clear that we see the emerging markets as playing a key role in that recovery.
Thanks to the UK opt out from the Euro, we do so against a more positive backdrop than our European partners, who have the additional dimension of Greece -
As for the Euro, too much political credibility has been invested for it to be abandoned. I don’t say this as a euro-
In 1991, as Prime Minister, I refused to commit Sterling to the Euro-
It is due to that 1991 opt-
Elsewhere, there is a brighter picture. Although the collapse in Western demand hit the Eastern economies, the larger countries -
Latin America has changed dramatically for the better over the last two decades. It is now a Continent of increasingly stable democracies. It is not deeply in debt. Its economic fundamentals are stronger much of the developed world: its foreign exchange reserves are at an all-
Its collective GDP is -
In the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf, some countries were barely affected by the financial turmoil: indeed, most grew around 5% despite the steep drop in the oil price.
What can we expect as we look forward?
In the West -
So will private spending, as the impact of high unemployment -
Over recent years, the world has looked enviously at the energy-
When oil fell to US$40, OPEC cut output to sustain the price. It has since risen to US$70-
What risks lie ahead?
Of course, the risk of a double-
A greater risk is protection, which is always a danger at times of high unemployment.
Mini protections -
If protection gets out of hand it is dangerous. It risks retaliation: it was, after all, what caused the problems of 1929/30 to become the prolonged slump of the 1930s as world trade fell by two-
It is easy (and fashionable) to be gloomy about the mature Western economies and to look too much to China and the East. We shouldn’t overdo this: the West may not be able to compete on labour costs but while they continue to lead the technological revolution they will remain the key economic players.
I am here to celebrate the bicentenary of Mexico, but let me touch on some of the areas where there are great shared opportunities for us over the next 200 years:
Consider science: the first integrated circuit -
As science changes how we live, medical science is changing the quality and length of our lives. A hundred years ago, no-
Scientists are now examining how to combine computer chip technology with pharmaceutical research so they can target drugs to treat specific parts of the body. Imagine -
Such science is leading a revolution in medical care: advances in engineering techniques have given us insulin pumps for diabetes; cochlea implants for deafness; and there are realistic prospects of repairing nerve cells for sufferers of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. It may soon be possible to replace heart muscle cells.
A few years ago, all this would have seemed like Black Magic. Soon, fantasy will become reality, with commercial prospects that are simply staggering.
One continuing headache will be energy supply and energy security.
We know that coal, oil and gas are going to dominate energy supply for decades to come -
Since this is so, we need to develop carbon capture and store the carbon residue where it is safe -
So is the risk of climate change. Because hard-
Energy security is not the only long-
World population is projected to reach 8 or even 9 billion by 2050. This is like absorbing two more nations the size of China. It offers social threats and economic opportunities.
We live in a fast-
Over two decades, China and the US have developed a huge inter-
In a preface to some famous essays, an English philosopher flatteringly observed to his patron that “You have planted things that are likely to last”.
As have the UK and Mexico, by working closely together in:
But we could do so much more and -