Mexico City — Left-wing populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador sought to calm the business community's nervousness about his policies after winning a landslide victory in the July 1 presidential election in Mexico.
In a speech in a downtown Mexico City hotel within a couple of hours of all three of his rivals conceding defeat to the 64-year-old founder of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), López Obrador said he would not hinder business development.
“There will be entrepreneurial freedom, freedom of expression, of association and beliefs,” he said. “All individual and social liberties, as well as citizenry and political rights [that are] consecrated in our constitution will be guaranteed.”
On the campaign trail, López Obrador often criticized some of Mexico's most prominent business leaders, accusing them of resisting the “profound” changes he said he wants to bring to Mexico. On more than one occasion, he said he would “govern by decree” and he blasted Mexico's established institutions.
But on July 1 he claimed he wanted to build “an authentic democracy. It's not our intention to build a dictatorship, either openly or surreptitiously.”
In a sole reference to trade and immigration, he said: “Our intention is to strengthen the internal market, to try to produce in the country what we consume so that Mexicans can work and be happy where they were born and where their families, customs and cultures are to be found. Let those who want to emigrate do so for pleasure and not out of necessity.”
He failed to mention NAFTA in the speech, to the surprise of some Mexican political commentators. Talks between the United States, Mexico and Canada aimed at modernizing NAFTA started in August and have turned increasingly contentious.
López Obrador triumphed by 30 or so percentage points over his nearest rival, Ricardo Anaya, the candidate of a conservative-left-wing alliance that was spearheaded by the Partido de Acción Nacional (PAN). Revolucionario Institucional, the party of outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto, saw its candidate, José Antonio Meade, come in a distant third.
In a statement sent to Plastics News on July 3, Mexico plastics industry association Anipac said it was prepared to work wholeheartedly with López Obrador.
It would endeavor to maintain a close relationship with “our elected representatives so as to keep open the exchange of ideas regarding proposals and improvements for our industry and above all for our country, which today more than ever needs a firm and ongoing commitment to create better conditions for all citizens.”
Mexico's plastics industry, it said, accounts for 25.1 percent of the chemical industry's gross domestic product and has grown on average 4.8 percent a year over the past decade.
“It's an industry that is totally sustainable and … we would like to reiterate to our governments (national, state and local), legislators and society in general our commitment to sustainability. The plastics industry is prepared technically and has the capacity to recycle and reuse all plastics over and over again.”
In a statement posted on Twitter, Mexico's Confederation of Industrial Chambers (CONCAMIN), to which Anipac is affiliated, congratulated López Obrador on his victory and said it was committed to “working together with his government-elect to build a stronger, more modern, competitive and inclusive Mexico.”
“Let there be no doubt,” it added. “We industrialists are up to the challenge. We will continue investing, creating jobs and paying better wages to those who constitute our greatest assets: Mexico and our people.”
Concamin represents 112 industrial chambers and associations that together contribute 35 percent of Mexico's gross national product, according to the organization. Its 8.4 million workers account for 90 percent of the country's exports.