On Thursday 10th of November, the British Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, in collaboration with ONTIER International, hosted a breakfast-conference entitled “The Pacific Alliance: The New Horizon for UK and Mexico’s Commercial Opportunities after Brexit”.
Seamus Andrew, Paul Ferguson, Ian Cooper and Armando Nuricumbo.
The three panellists were Seamus Andrew, Paul Ferguson (Managing Partner and Partner at ONTIER UK respectively), and Ian Cooper (Country Manager at Mexico Ylem Energy & Head of BritChaM’s Green Power Group). The discussion was moderated by Armando Nuricumbo, Managing Director at RGP Mexico, and Head of BritChaM’s Finance Group.
Seamus Andrew, Paul Ferguson Partners at Ontier UK and Ian Cooper Country Manager at Mexico Ylem Energy & Head of BritChaM’s Green Power Group.
Armando introduced the panellists given the opportunity to give a 5 minute opening statement.
Seamus stressed that he believes the UK is well positioned to act as the link between the Pacific Alliance and Latin America. He argued London is best placed to resolve disputes between members of the Pacific Alliance and third party countries, as it possesses neutrality due to international arbitration. He concluded by stating that he believes Brexit won’t affect London’s position, however recent results of the U.S. election may have a greater impact.
Paul spoke briefly about Brexit, mentioning recent developments, in which the UK government lost a High Court case, which found that government does not have the constitutional right to trigger Article 50 without parliamentary vote. He believes Brexit will free the UK of many trade restrictions, opening up opportunities. He did caution, however, that in the long term, the UK’s bargaining power may be reduced, as it no longer offers a gateway to the EU. He concluded his introduction by stating that only 0.65% of Mexico’s exports go to the UK, and that Mexican businesses have vast opportunities to partner with UK businesses in a number of growth economies.
Ian gave the perspective of a British business in Mexico. He stated that, although business in Mexico can sometimes be an ‘exercise in patience’, taking much longer than in the UK, there are plenty of opportunities for British businesses that are not being maximised. He ended by stating despite large uncertainty following both Brexit and the U.S. elections, there is still great potential to do business in Mexico.
Attendees enjoyed the breakfast-conference at Presidente Intercontinental Hotel.
The panellists were asked several questions by the audience.
Do you see a link between the Brexit vote and Trump’s election, and is this the end of established policy, or just a temporary trend?
Paul stated that he believes the link is due to the liberal elite having ignored working classes for so long. He argues that these were “protest votes”, which have been heard and will bring about change.
Seamus and Ian agreed, adding that these seismic events create opportunities for all countries.
What are the risks and opportunities for the UK-Mexico relationship following Brexit?
Seamus stated that the UK grew “lazy” over the years, as it had been much easier to trade within the EU, and as a result the UK had neglected other countries. He said Brexit could force the UK to seek renewing ties with countries it had neglected, including Mexico and the rest of Latin America.
Ian stressed that the biggest threat to the UK is that other European countries are starting to invest aggressively in Latin America, with a strong Euro making them price competitive.
What are the main risks of a Trump presidency for the UK?
Seamus stressed that the biggest risk would be both the UK and U.S. becoming protectionist and focusing solely on inward issues, as this would impact the whole world’s economy and represent a serious danger to global trade.
Paul added that he believes long-term trade will recover after the initial shock of the U.S. election result.
Please elaborate further on the recent High Court decision regarding Brexit.
Paul explained that, following the narrow Brexit vote (won by a 51.8% majority), the government expected to be able to decide when Article 50 would be triggered. This faced a constitutional challenge in the High Court, where it was determined parliamentary approval must be obtained before this can happen. The government is currently appealing to the Supreme Court, where the UK’s twelve most senior judges will decide the outcome.
Do you see any significant changes to the Pacific Alliance in the future?
Seamus stated the Pacific Alliance will grow in importance if America becomes protectionist.
Ian agreed, adding that the Pacific Alliance would strengthen should the U.S. close the door on free trade, but he stressed that Britain must move quickly as other EU countries are already trading with Latin America.
Do we risk more Brexit or Trump style votes?
Ian revealed that he would be surprised if more countries did not leave the EU.
Paul stated that even if certain countries might leave, he expects the EU’s existence to continue. He stressed that although countries will naturally start top focus more on inward activities, there is no need for global panic.
Armando closed the debate by asking the panellists whether they are optimistic or pessimistic for next year.
Armando Nuricumbo, Head of BritChaM's Finance Group and moderator for the breakfast-conference.
Paul expressed his optimism for the upcoming year, stating the UK must look West for trade; but not to the U.S.A as has been tradition, to Latin America.
Seamus agreed, reaffirming the many opportunities for business between the UK and Mexico.
Ian concluded by saying that he was optimistic but stressed that there are many outstanding challenges.
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