France and Mexico

Presentation

Mexico, home to ancient civilizations, boasts exceptional human wealth and cultural diversity which make it unique. With over 127 million inhabitants and a GDP of nearly $1,200 billion, Mexico is also the most populous Hispanic country and Latin America’s second-largest economy. Mexico’s membership of the G20 and OECD as well as its role as a bridge between countries of the North and South make it an important partner for France.

Political relations

At the multilateral level, France and Mexico are special partners and display a very broad convergence of views within the G20 on issues such as financial regulation, the rejection of protectionism, combating tax evasion, food security and development. Mexico and France are key partners in the field of the environment and sustainable development, and worked hand-in-hand for the adoption of an ambitious, universal and legally binding agreement in this area during the Paris Climate Conference (COP21).

Bilaterally, the long-standing relations between France and Mexico were enhanced in 2013 and 2014 (through consultations at senior official level and numerous ministerial meetings). Our political dialogue is now dynamic, based on a Strategic Partnership initiated during respective State visits by the French President on 10-11 April 2014 and the Mexican President to Paris, as guest of honour of the 14 July parade in 2015.

Bilateral visits

France’s political dialogue with Mexico has gone from strength to strength since the meeting between the French President and the President-elect of Mexico Mr Enrique Peña Nieto, on 17 October 2012. Recent visits include:

  • 14-15 July 2013: visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Laurent Fabius,
  • 24-25 October 2013: visit by the Minister of Foreign Trade, Ms Nicole Bricq,
  • 31 October 2013: visit by the French Minister of Defence, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian,
  • 6 November 2013: visit to France by the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Mr José Antonio Meade Kuribreña; establishment of the Franco-Mexican Strategic Council (CSFM) which held its first plenary session chaired by the President of the French Republic,
  • 10-11 April 2014: State visit to Mexico by the President of the French Republic,
  • 26 November 2014: visit to Paris by the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs and meeting with Mr Laurent Fabius,
  • 13-16 July 2015: State visit by the Mexican President Mr Enrique Peña Nieto, guest of honour during the 14 July Bastille Day parade,
  • 9-11 February 2016: visit by the French Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, Mr Matthias Fekl, for the inauguration of the Paris-Mexico Airbus A380 line,
  • 30 May-3 June 2016: visit by the French Minister of Health and Social Affairs, Ms Marisol Touraine,
  • 4 October 2016: visit to France by Mexican Minister of External Relations, Ms Ruiz Massieu, for the inauguration of the “Mexico (1900-1950)” exhibition at the Grand Palais museum.

Economic relations

French presence in Mexico is significant and promising. Around 500 French companies are established in Mexico (including most of our largest businesses) and cover a very broad spectrum of sectors. France is Mexico’s 15ᵗʰ-largest partner globally and 5ᵗʰ in Europe (behind Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands), with a market share stable at around 1%. Mexico is France’s 28ᵗʰ-largest client.

French-Mexican trade has increased steadily since 2009 and reached a new high in 2016 of over €6 billion: €3.7 billion in exports against €2.5 billion in imports and a bilateral surplus of €1.2 billion. Our bilateral trade surplus (our 14ᵗʰ-largest surplus globally) is growing, and five sectors account for almost half our sales to Mexico: aviation, pharmaceutical products, communications equipment, perfume and cosmetics, and electronic components. Since 2008, France has been the leading European exporter of aviation products, ahead of the United Kingdom and Spain, and the second-largest exporter of pharmaceutical products behind Germany.

During the State visit of President Peña Nieto to France in July 2015, the stated goal of 2013 was reaffirmed: doubling our trade with Mexico by 2017, with the three priorities of telecommunications, agrifood and sustainable cities.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

For our cooperation, Mexico is a priority country in Latin America. Mexico is our second-largest partner in the region, after Brazil. French cooperation in Mexico relies on a diverse network of institutions: a “Maison de la France” (House of France) to showcase France’s presence in Mexico (it is currently being restructured); the Institut français (French Institute) of Latin America (IFAL); the 27 Alliance Française branches and their 11 associated centres; the Centre for Mexican and Central American Studies (CEMCA); the Franco-Mexican College for the Social Sciences (CFMSS); and three establishments attached to the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE): the Franco-Mexican Lycée (LFM) in Mexico City (3,041 pupils, of whom 1,354 are French); the Franco-Mexican Lycée in Guadalajara (866 pupils, of whom 239 are French; and the Molière School in Cuernavaca (269 pupils, of whom 70 are French), giving a total of 4,176 pupils, 40% of whom are French. In addition, some 250,000 young Mexicans are studying French in schools and universities.

In the scientific field, today France is Mexico’s third-largest partner with 600 joint publications per year, after the United States and Spain. More than a hundred joint research projects are ongoing, involving over 500 researchers and students in the two countries. France is active in the research sector, via the Mexican branch of the French Research Institute for Development (IRD) and numerous bilateral programmes or partnerships between French bodies (INSERM, Pasteur Institute) and Mexican ones in areas of excellence like mathematics, chemistry and the social sciences. In the field of the environment, this support was reflected in the creation in 2009 of the Jacques Cousteau Observatory, a platform for research and collection of regionally-oriented data on Mexico’s coastlines, involving many French and Mexican partners from universities (Brest, Montpellier) and the research world (CNRS, IRD, IFREMER). In the area of health, cooperation between French partners (Pasteur Institute, INSERM) and Mexican partners is expanding with, for example, the establishment of the following: the Biomedical Research Centre for Infectious Diseases (CIBEI) in Veracruz, an epidemiological monitoring and diagnosis centre in León, State of Guanajuato, and the first marketing authorization worldwide for the dengue fever vaccine in Mexico.

In the academic field, France is the third most popular host country for Mexican students in mobility programmes, with more than 2,800 visas issued for the academic year 2015-2016. Some 57% of these mobility programmes take place under university cooperation agreements (some five hundred to date), with a strong presence of French students (1,500) in Mexico: they are the biggest foreign student group in that country. Mexico also receives more than 200 CNRS researchers annually. Vocational training programmes are also developed in partnership with French companies.

The vitality of exchanges between France and Mexico is also expressed in terms of culture as shown by the following large-scale exhibitions:

  • “Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo: Art in fusion” (9 October 2013 to 13 January 2014) at the Orangerie Museum, in collaboration with the Museo Dolores Olmedo, Mexico City.
  • Festival “Mano a Mano, France-Mexico: Photographic Cross-Vision”, at the French Institute of Latin America (IFAL), from April 2014 to April 2015.
  • Mayas: revelation of an endless time, at the Quai Branly Museum, from 7 October 2014 to 8 February 2015.
  • Mexico (1900-1950): Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Jose Clemente Orozco and vanguards, at the Grand Palais, from 5 October 2016 to 23 January 2017.

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Updated: 28 Feburary 2017

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