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Several times in the past couple of weeks, your correspondent has been called up by Movistar, the Mexican mobile unit of Spanish firm Telefónica, urging her to switch phone service providers.

That could be a smart move, according to new research by Tarifica, a specialised telecoms pricing consultancy that monitors 312 mobile phone companies in 85 countries. No. 2 player Movistar comes out on top in Mexico in value-for-money terms, well above dominant market player Telcel, owned by tycoon Carlos Slim, which has a reputation for offering the best nationwide coverage but at higher cost and with poor customer service. Continue reading »

Rather like someone at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, Mexico’s government has started by admitting that it has a problem.

The problem? Productivity. Or rather, Mexico’s historic lack of it.

The solution? A competition- and productivity-boosting set of policy initiatives contained in a draft bill sent to Congress by Enrique Pena Nieto, the president, aiming to redesign state industrial policy for the long term. Continue reading »

There’s a new kid on the block as Mexico’s energy reform gets rolling.

Backed by Mexican pension funds and private equity firms Riverstone Holdings and EnCap Investments, the new company, Sierra Oil, has large ambitions and aims to bring new technology – like horizontal drilling – to Mexico, with the goal of securing returns of 15 per cent on its investment in the long term.

“We are small. We’ll stay small. But we can take on big challenges,” says its CEO, Iván Sandrea, a Venezuelan whose CV includes stints at Statoil, BP and OPEC. Continue reading »

The sigh of relief coming out of Mexico has been practically audible. “Alleluia!” exclaimed Nomura in a research note.

It’s not so much that there was doubt that growth was really happening, though after last year’s shock slump (GDP expanded a meagre 1.1 per cent overall), taking growth for granted looks ill-advised.

However, the indication that GDP grew by a stronger-than-expected 2.52 per cent in July, the fourth consecutive monthly rise, is a reassuring confirmation that things are on the right track. Continue reading »

It’s not just about oil. That is, in a nutshell, Mexico’s message to investors. What about halal food? Or ships? Videogames, anyone?

Oil and gas prospects are obviously at the front of Mexico’s investment prospects – the country’s energy reform is expected to attract as much as $50bn in foreign investment in 2020.

But there’s more, the government says. And not just in the increasingly high-tech manufacturing industry that Mexico has embraced – it is the world’s fourth exporter of cars and first of flat-screen TVs, and its aerospace industry has rocketed. Continue reading »

Ever pragmatic, the boss of Pemex, Mexico’s revamping state oil company, knows the first barrels of oil extracted from the enticing deepwater prospects in the Gulf of Mexico under the country’s historic energy reform will probably be processed and shipped through existing US infrastructure.

But don’t be tempted to think that Pemex is taking its eye off Asia. Continue reading »

By Scott Wallsten of the Technology Policy Institute

Mexico has long suffered from an underperforming telecommunications sector dominated by a single company, América Móvil. The new government made reinvigorating the sector a key reform goal. It added rules governing telecoms to Mexico’s constitution and last month the president signed a “secondary law” further detailing those changes.

Some parts of the law are promising. It creates a new, more independent and tougher regulator to replace a weak and often ineffective one. It introduces regulations that América Móvil saw as so costly that it announced plans to divest in order to avoid them – which could lead to the happy outcome of more competition with no need to impose the costly regulations. Mexico should be proud of these achievements.

Another part of the law, however, might undermine everything. Continue reading »

Growing in Brazil has long been in the sights of Carlos Slim’s América Móvil. The company has almost as many subscribers there as in Mexico, where it is under regulatory pressure.

So teaming up with an existing carrier to buy the country’s No. 2 cellphone carrier might be a smart move.

According to Bloomberg, América Móvil is talking to Brazil’s Oi about teaming up to make a joint bid for the Brazilian operations of mobile operator TIM. Continue reading »

Mexico’s energy reform is all about boosting investment and thus production. But the million dollar question is: just how much investment will flood in, and to what type of resource, when fields are put on the block starting from next year?

Ernesto Marcos, a former CFO of Pemex, the Mexican state company, has hazarded what looks like the first comprehensive guess. Continue reading »

Mexico’s 2015 budget may contain a slightly lower growth forecast than originally anticipated, but compared to other heavyweights in Latin America, things are still looking good.

In the 2015 budget presented to Congress, Mexico’s government pencilled in a GDP growth goal for next year of 3.7 per cent. As recently as April, the government had been sticking to a 4.7 per cent forecast. Even though a full point lower than that earlier forecast, it’s still ahead of this year’s goal of 2.7 per cent, which the government has ratified. Continue reading »

Carlos Slim’s telecoms empire may be being chopped down to size in Mexico but his influence in his home country looks anything but on the wane – indeed, it could be set for a brand new take-off in the shape of the Mexico City airport.

It’s all speculation so far but not only is Carso, one of the groups in Slim’s empire, reported to be interested in bidding for the expected $9bn project, but his son-in-law Fernando Romero, in partnership with Britain’s Norman Foster, is believed to have won a contract to design what will be President Enrique Peña Nieto’s crown jewel infrastructure project. Continue reading »

Free-trade champion Mexico is on a reform drive that promises new openness in key sectors of its economy, especially energy. So what is it doing slapping protectionist measures on its shoe industry?

Fighting unfair competition from China, officials say.

The raft of new measures to protect Mexico’s industry – which makes 240m pairs of shoes a year – sounds distinctly off message, especially since President Enrique Peña Nieto has made boosting trade ties with China a priority. (He met his Chinese counterpart three times within six months to forge closer relations.) Continue reading »

Mexico has a brand new police force, the gendarmería tasked with beefing up the country’s crackdown on crime.

But according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), it may have a powerful crime-fighting weapon already: remittances. Continue reading »

Full marks for Enrique Peña Nieto: the Mexican president’s energy reform is in the bag, so it’s full speed ahead now to cheaper energy, faster growth, higher investment and more jobs, right?

That’s the plan, and Mexico certainly looks to be on track – indeed, the government is so aware that it has not a moment to lose that with the ink barely dry on the legislation, it was already announcing what private investors could look forward to bidding for as the sector is opened up for the first time since 1938. Continue reading »

More glum news for Mexico’s economy, which has been growing at turtle speed this year. Growth in May came in below expectations – again.

According to the state statistics office, growth in May was a disappointing 1.4 per cent, below market forecasts for nearer 2 per cent. Continue reading »