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Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto said Monday in Madrid that he wanted to "reinforce the historical links" with Spain, expanding bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
Peña Nieto, who takes office on Dec. 1 and is on a tour of several European capitals, met with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and King Juan Carlos I.
"Spain is our second most important trade partner in the European Union, and the No. 1 investor country, with more than $45 billion, but this relationship still has much to give both peoples," Peña Nieto said.
The Mexican president-elect delivered an address to business leaders, offering Spain the support and assistance of his incoming administration in dealing with the economic crisis.
Peña Nieto said his goal was to strengthen the relationship between "both brotherly peoples."
The president-elect discussed the economic strategies he planned to implement after taking office.
The objective of these policies is to promote "the development of my country, but they will also help Spain get out of the crisis," Peña Nieto said.
The next Mexican government will be "aware of the optimal situation that Mexico is in at this time for being competitive in the region and against other countries," the president-elect told the Spanish business leaders.
"We will continue working on a free-market economy, but placing more emphasis on the social aspects. We will create a trade economy, but with social feeling, taking advantage of the agreements we have with other countries," Peña Nieto said.
The incoming administration will seek to have "a greater trade presence in the world," taking "more advantage of the trade agreements" that Mexico has signed with 44 countries, including EU members, Peña Nieto said.
The Mexican president-elect discussed the importance of increased bilateral trade and cooperation with Rajoy, telling the prime minister that he was confident that Spain would soon turn the corner on the economic crisis.
Peña Nieto said his administration would move ahead with the deal cut by Pemex with shipyards in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia for the construction of floating hotels.
"I have vowed that my government will continue with the procedures started," Peña Nieto said in a press conference after meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in Madrid.
Mexico will move forward with the agreements because they will "provide mutual benefits for both the contractor and for Pemex itself," Peña Nieto said.
The president-elect discussed other issues relating to Mexico's energy industry during the press conference.
"There is an existing relationship that dates back many years between (Spanish oil company) Repsol and Pemex, and I believe there is room and an opportunity for that relationship to generate benefits to promote greater development in Mexico of our energy capacity," Peña Nieto said in response to a question about whether the energy industry would play a leading role in bolstering relations with Spain.
"We must undertake energy reforms that will allow us to be more competitive and to have more private (sector) participation in Petroleos Mexicanos," Peña Nieto said, adding that "this does not mean that Pemex is going to be privatized."
Mexico's next government will focus on "promoting economic growth as the engine of national development," Peña Nieto said, adding that he would implement certain policies to "make it sustainable," such as pushing for autonomy for the Bank of Mexico, managing public finances responsibly and promoting economic competition in all sectors.
"To do this, we will create regulatory agencies with a greater capacity to fight monopolistic practices, as well as specialized courts to deal with this area," Peña Nieto said.
The level of lending in Mexico must also be expanded, the president-elect said, noting that there was a need "to review mechanisms with banks that, within the law, can incentivize the granting of more loans."
The government plans to launch new universal social security programs "that offer minimum conditions for all Mexicans," Peña Nieto said.
The president-elect said he would also deal with crime, "a problem that has worsened in recent years, a sensitive issue, and a priority for us."
"We will have to adjust the strategy that has been followed and achieve greater efficiency," Peña Nieto said, adding that he planned to focus on reducing violence, the homicide rate and extortion. EFE