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New Zealand and Mexico first established diplomatic relations on 19 July 1973. New Zealand opened its Embassy in Mexico City in 1983 and Mexico opened its Embassy in Wellington in 1991. In 2013, New Zealand and Mexico commemorate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 30th anniversary of the opening of the New Zealand Embassy in Mexico City.
Prime Minister Key made an official visit to Mexico 4-5 March 2013. He was the first Head of Government to call upon Mexico's new President, Enrique Peña Nieto. The visit was well timed as Mexico looks to increase its engagement with the Asia Pacific region, in particular through the Trans Pacific Partnership, and as New Zealand looks to strengthen its relationship with the key economies of Latin America. Both Leaders recognised the strong friendship that exists between Mexico and New Zealand, and committed to expand bilateral trade and investment and to continue the good cooperation that exists in the multilateral arena.
The relationship traditionally focused on trade and cooperation in multilateral forums, such as the UN, APEC, and the International Whaling Commission amongst others. However, it has broadened significantly in recent years to include a wide range of business, research, political, and people-to-people links. This growing engagement has been fostered by New Zealand’s Latin America Strategy and a web of bilateral arrangements including a:
Since the early 1970s Mexico has consistently been one of New Zealand’s top Latin American trading partners and among our most important milk powder markets in the world.
From 2010 to 2012 the average value of New Zealand exports to Mexico was NZ$362 million per year.
In 2012 New Zealand was Mexico’s 53th most important trading partner; 42nd as supplier and 59th as a market.
Within the framework of the Latin American Strategy, New Zealand’s initiatives with Latin America are focussed on the following priority areas:
In the case of Mexico, the Strategy gives a particular focus to:
In October 2012, Mexico formally became a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiating partner. In December 2012, a Mexican delegation participated in Round 15 of the TPP negotiations in Auckland (For further information, please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s webpage: TPP Talk).
Mexico’s entry into the TPP offers a timely opportunity to seize the considerable potential for growth in two way trade and investment links between New Zealand and Mexico.
Mexico competes with China to be the cheapest manufacturing base in the world for goods destined for the US market, which provides excellent investment opportunities for New Zealand business with markets in North America.
Mexico is the fourteenth largest country in the world and was ranked as the thirteenth largest economy by the World Bank in 2011. Often referred to as the “fifth BRIC”, Mexico has a strong and growing economy, combined with significant natural resources, a growing middle class and a common border with the USA. These factors make Mexico a market of interest for New Zealand trade and investment.
Jim O’Neill, Chairman of Goldman Sachs, stated that the MISTs (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey) are the four biggest markets in the Goldman Sachs N-11 Equity Fund, which has climbed 12% compared with a 1.5% gain in the BRIC Fund. Goldman Sachs has also predicted Mexico could be the world’s seventh largest economy by 2020.
Mexico’s growing global economic role is also supported by the fact that according to present trends, by 2018 the United States might be importing more from Mexico than from any other country, supplanting China as the major supplier to the US.
Mexico has risen in rank over 6 consecutive years in World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business Rankings”- in 2012 ranked 48th ( 53rd in 2011) and is the easiest place to do business in Latin America. The “Starting a Business” indicator showed the most movement, with Mexico rising from 75th to 36th position. According to KPMG 2012, Mexico has an average cost advantage of 21% (across 19 industries) in comparison with the United States. Mexico also offers a higher labour availability, capacity and quality than India, China and Brazil (CONACYT/ FDI Benchmark (Labor Availability & Quality/ Skills 2011).
New Zealand has been interested in concluding a FTA with Mexico for some time. In 2004 a Joint Experts Group (which consisted of government officials, business representatives, and academics) evaluated the benefits of some form of economic partnership agreement or FTA between Mexico and New Zealand. The Joint Experts Group Report concluded that an FTA would benefit the economies of both countries, given their complementarity. Despite the conclusion that the Mexican and New Zealand economies are complementary, it was not possible to start negotiations on a bilateral FTA - although this remained New Zealand’s ambition. Mexico’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations provides a new opportunity to achieve many of the recommendations of the Joint Experts Report. (Press Statement from New Zealand Minister of Trade, Tim Groser).
In March 2013, during Prime Minister John Key's official visit to Mexico, New Zealand and Mexico reinforced their common commitment to concluding a high quality TPP that comprehensively liberalises trade and investment, consistent with the objectives and statements agreed by TPP Leaders and Ministers in 2011. In their Joint Statement on March 5 Prime Minister Key and Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto, welcomed the contribution TPP would make to regional economic integration and agreed that the conclusion and implementation of an ambitious agreement would boost trade, employment and growth in Mexico and New Zealand.
New Zealand and Mexico are both members of APEC, the OECD, the WTO and the TPP negotiations. New Zealand has been admitted as an Observer in the Pacific Alliance, whose members Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia, aim to establish a regional free trade area.
Between 2000 and 2011 New Zealand companies or companies with New Zealand capital, have invested around NZ$125 million in Mexico. Over this period, the New Zealand companies with the most significant investments in Mexico were: Fisher & Paykel Healthcare; Fisher and Paykel Appliances; Tru-Test; Moffat, and AvoHealth.
Trade and investment links between Mexico and New Zealand have also been strengthened by trade missions, and visits by officials, scientists and technical experts.
New Zealand and Mexico have largely complementary economies, with New Zealand’s strength being in agriculture and Mexico’s in manufacturing. Agriculture is an area with great potential for growth in trade and investment/technology transfer, particularly as Mexico seeks to diversify its trade profile through adding value to its traditional agricultural exports. A number of visits focused on this sector have taken place in recent years.
In the framework of the Global Research Alliance Mexico and New Zealand work together on the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by agriculture.
The former Mexican Minister of Agriculture, Francisco Mayorga, led an agri-business delegation to New Zealand in June 2010. The delegation attended the Mystery Creek National Agricultural Fieldays and met with key New Zealand agricultural companies, education and training providers as well as research institutes.
A number of New Zealand experts have also been invited by Mexico to speak on New Zealand’s agricultural reform experience at conferences.
An umbrella agreement on scientific and technological cooperation was signed in August 1983. In March 2004 the New Zealand Ministry of Research, Science and Technology (MoRST) and its Mexican counterpart CONACYT took steps to promote relations by signing an “Arrangement on Scientific, Research and Technological Cooperation”.
A "Renewable Energy Cooperation Arrangement" was signed during the visit to Mexico by Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee in March 2010. In July 2012 a Mexican Geothermal Delegation visited New Zealand. The Delegation consisted of representatives from Mexico’s Ministry of Energy (SENER), Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), and the Electric Power Research Institute (IIE). This visit contributed towards envisaging further cooperation with New Zealand on geothermal and other renewable sources of energy, including identifying ideas of commercial interest.
Mexican scientists are members of the LEARN (Livestock Emissions and Abatement Research Network) and participated in conferences in New Zealand in 2007 and Uruguay in 2008. As previously mentioned, both countries are also members of the Global Research Alliance on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agriculture.
An air services agreement was signed in 1999 and was extended in 2012 for a further three year period. The agreement provided for open capacity for traffic between Mexico and New Zealand and for the introduction of third country traffic if agreed at a later stage. top of page
Mexico and New Zealand have cooperated closely on disarmament issues for many years, notably in the annual United Nations Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Resolution negotiations and more recently in relation to the negotiation of an Arms Trade Treaty. Both are members of the New Agenda Group, dedicated to making progress on nuclear disarmament issues, and the Oslo Process on cluster munitions. Both belong to regional Nuclear Weapon Free Zone treaties.
New Zealand and Mexico work closely together on many UN human rights issues, including annual joint initiatives promoting the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
New Zealand was a strong supporter of Mexico’s successful candidacy for a seat on the United Nations Security Council for the periods 2002 – 2003 and 2009 – 2010 and Mexico is supporting New Zealand’s candidacy for 2015-2016. New Zealand also supported the successful Mexican candidacy for Secretary General of the OECD in 2005.
Environmental issues are an important area of cooperation, particularly in climate change, whale conservation, and fossil fuel subsidy reform (which Mexico championed in the G20 context during its 2012 G20 Presidency). Minister Groser visited Mexico three times in late 2010/early 2011 –including the previously mentioned participation during the Cancun negotiations as chair of a key working group–in his capacity as Minister responsible for climate change negotiations.
Education cooperation and student exchanges
An overarching education cooperation agreement was signed in 2004 during the visit to Mexico by an education mission led by then Minister of Education Trevor Mallard.
Many New Zealand universities and polytechnics, including Auckland, Otago, AUT, Massey and Weltec have formed relationships with Mexican counterparts, opening up opportunities for cooperation and student and staff exchanges. An increasing volume of university agreements (18 in total) reflects the educational interests between Mexico and New Zealand:
New Zealand provides ten awards per annum for doctoral applicants from anywhere in the world to study in New Zealand: International Doctoral Research Scholarships. These scholarships are administered by Education New Zealand (refer below to scholarships awarded under the New Zealand Aid Programme).
Mexico-New Zealand Working Holiday Scheme
The Mexico-New Zealand Working Holiday Scheme (WHS), was signed during President Calderón’s visit to New Zealand in September 2007 as a positive way to develop social and cultural links between young Mexicans and New Zealanders. The scheme allows 200 people aged 18-30 from each country to spend a year travelling, working and studying in the other. The scheme began on 31 March 2008 and is extremely popular with Mexicans, with the full quota being fully subscribed each year within minutes of registration opening: WHS Mexico.
The Te Papa exhibition E Tu Ake, Orgullo Maori was hosted by the Museo de las Culturas, April to July 2012 in Mexico’s historic centre. In a reciprocal arrangement, Te Papa is currently in discussions with Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (INAH) about a major Aztec exhibition travelling to New Zealand in 2013.
An independent New Zealand art exhibition El Barrocco de Aotearoa was held in Mexico’s MUCA Roma gallery in December 2011.
Mexican and New Zealand citizens are able to travel to each other’s country for up to 90 days without needing to apply for a visa.
The New Zealand Embassy in Mexico City operates a Head of Mission Fund to support small scale, community-based development assistance projects. Funding is granted each year to a range of groups in various states of Mexico. The focus of the HOMF is in line with the objective of the New Zealand Aid Programme which is to support sustainable development in developing countries, in order to reduce poverty and to contribute to a more secure, equitable, and prosperous world.
Through the New Zealand Development Scholarship (NZDS), people from selected developing countries are offered the opportunity to undertake a full-time, tertiary level study in New Zealand. The purpose of the scholarships is to assist in the development, both economic and social, of the applicant's home country through the graduate being able to apply the new skills and knowledge gained through post-graduate studies.
Scholarships are offered at postgraduate level for study related to Sustainable Economic Development with preference given to study in sectors of: agricultural development and geothermal development. The scholarships include financial support for tuition, living costs while in New Zealand, and airfares.
Currently, the 9 New Zealand institutions at which Mexican students can study are:
Official Name - United Mexican States
Land Area - 1,953,162 sq km
Population - 114 million (World Bank 2011)
Capital City - Mexico City
Religion - Secular (predominantly Catholic )
Official Language - Spanish
Currency - Peso
Political system - Presidential; Federal; Universal adult suffrage
National government - Cabinet appointed by President
National legislature - Bicameral Congress -Senate and Chamber of Deputies
Last election - Presidential and Congressional (both Chambers) – 1 July 2012
Next elections due -Congressional July 2015 (Chamber of Deputies only) Presidential and Congressional July 2018 (both Chambers)
Head of State - President Enrique Peña Nieto
Head of Government -Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); 1 December 2012 to 1 December 2018
Key Ministers -
Main political parties -
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) - Government as of 1 December 2012; Previously in office 1929 to 2000
National Action Party (PAN) - Government 2000 to 2012
Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) - Never held Presidency
GDP –US$1,206.4 billion (Economist Intelligent Unit Estimates)
GDP Per Capita (PPP) – US$17,915 (2012)
Real GDP Growth – 4% (2012)
Exports FOB – US$370,629 (2012)
Imports FOB – US$370,994 (2012)
Consumer Price Inflation (average) – 3.5% (2012)
External debt stock – US$218 million (2012)
Current account – deficit of US$6,687 million (2012)
Source: Economist Intelligence Unit (2012 figures)
The New Zealand Embassy in Mexico City [external link].
The Mexican Embassy in Wellington [external link].top of page
The Safe Travel website has comprehensive travel information including advice on the safety and security of travel to Mexico [external link].
Further enquiries may be directed to:
Tel: +64 4 439 8000
Fax: +64 4 439 8532
New Zealanders and Mexicans travelling to each other's country for less than three months do not need to apply for a visa beforehand.