Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto said in an interview published Sunday by Brazil's Epoca magazine that "free trade is the path for Latin America," where he will visit several countries during an upcoming tour.

"Free trade, far from protectionism, is the path that we should take to make Latin America a thriving actor in the global economy," Peña Nieto said.

The Mexican president-elect begins a tour Monday that will take him to Guatemala, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Peru.

Brazil is an "essential partner in Latin America and an unparalleled go-between in the hemisphere," Peña Nieto said, adding that he hoped to "consolidate a relationship" that has had "ups and downs" but offers "great opportunities" due to the "trade capacity" of both countries.

Mexico "finds itself at a significant moment" that cannot "be wasted" and should be taken advantage of to turn the country into "one of the world's leading economies," the president-elect said.

Mexico's "broad network of free trade agreements" and "its privileged geographic location," along with "important reserves of natural resources, like petroleum and precious metals, are the bulwarks for laying the foundations for the future," Peña Nieto said.

Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, will be inaugurated on Dec. 1.

The PRI, which governed Mexico from 1929 to 2000, has been out of power for 12 years. EFE