MCALLEN, Texas – Duncan Wood, vice president for strategy and new initiatives at the Wilson Center, gave three speeches in the Rio Grande Valley last week.
On Thursday, July 27, the senior advisor to the Mexico Institute spoke at a by-invitation-only luncheon hosted by the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation and held at Texas Southmost College.
And on Friday, July 28, he spoke twice. First, at a private breakfast event hosted by the CEO Club and held at McAllen Country Club. And, second, at his one public event, when he gave the keynote address at the MXLAN International Economic Summit held at the McAllen Convention Center.
In all three speeches, Wood discussed next year’s presidential election in Mexico. Up until recently, he said, the conventional wisdom was that a candidate from the ruling left-leaning MORENA party would win. However, Wood said Senator Xóchitl Gálvez, of the center-right PAN party, has recently shot up the polls.
“She has 34 percent of the popular vote at this point in time. I’m not saying she’s going to win next year. But I’m saying that she has actually now made it really interesting,” Wood said, in his remarks to the CEO Club.
Wood visited with Gálvez recently in Mexico City.
“Here’s the great thing about Xóchitl Gálvez. She says, listen, I don’t believe that everything that the current president has done is wrong. I disagree with his attitude towards investors. I disagree with his attitude toward business. I disagree with many of the things that he’s done. But the one thing that he has done is, she said, he’s put more money into the hands of the poor. And we need to think about that. We need to think about how do we actually help people raise themselves up out of poverty? Because we can’t just have wealth accumulation. We need to think about questions of distribution as well,” Wood said.
“So if a minor miracle happens and she wins next year, we’ll have a president in Mexico who is business friendly, and wants to work with the poor. And that would be a great partner, I think, for McAllen, for the (Hidalgo County) Prosperity Task Force. And I look forward to perhaps coming back and perhaps we can set up a dialogue with our counterparts in Mexico at that point.”
“Whoever wins in Mexico next year, I think we have a very interesting prospect because López Obrador has not been friendly to investors. But despite that money has flooded into the country because of near-shoring. But the $35 to $40 billion that has come into Mexico on an annual basis over the past 12 months is probably half of what they should be receiving.
“If they had more business friendly policies. If they had an energy policy that was working, they would be able to attract a lot more business, a lot more money. And I suspect that whoever wins, either from the ruling party or Xóchitl Gálvez will be a lot more investor friendly, which means that we could see Mexico moving to the next stage of economic development. We always say this periodically, we say Mexico is on the verge of becoming a first world country and it always falls back. But this time may actually be the real deal. This time may actually be where the near-shoring phenomenon, combined with our free trade agreement, combined with the right policies, combined with a much more friendly approach to investors and the bilateral relationship means that we could jump ahead.”
Here is a video recording of Wood’s speech to the CEO Club at the McAllen Country Club:
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