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«Juan Carlos Moreno-Brid This article explores the need for Mexican policymakers to add an active industrial policy as a key instrument to assist in ...»

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By admitting the relevance of industrial policy for Mexico today, the government has opened the door to a debate on key aspects of industrial policy: its goals, instruments, orientation, resources involved, scale and scope, and form of coordination between the private and the public sector. Many of these aspects are unknown at the time of writing, but there are a number of welcome changes. One is that the National Development Plan stresses the urgent need to create stronger forward and backward linkages between exports and the rest of the productive activities to boost Mexico’s economic growth and internal markets. To the extent that this implies setting as an objective not exclusively the promotion of exports, but also the increase in the value added domestically generated by them, the new industrial policy may provide a missing link in Mexico’s unsatisfactory quest for an export-led growth. We salute the Secretariat of the Economy’s declaration that programs under it have as an objective to strengthen and develop the domestic market with the same robustness as the foreign market, to strengthen nascent industries which have competitive advantages and to enhance innovation. These objectives of industrial policy are clear and are set as part of an agenda to promote economic growth. However, so far in practice industrial policy has not changed.

The challenges are in the details in the implementation of industrial policy, many of which are still unclear. The commitment to foster nascent activities is a new addition in Mexico’s recent economic history of industrial policy. To what extent such stimulus in nascent industries, or infant industries, will concentrate only on those that have already proven competitive advantages is at the center of the debate on the pros and cons of considering also stimulating the build up of new competitive advantages. The scant reference in the Pacto to manufacturing and to industrial policy is a question of concern to some analysts.

On what particular instruments will industrial policy rely? How and when will they be implemented and in coordination with what other policies, in the macroeconomic or labor area? In this matter it is recommended that the exchange rate does not enter a long-term trend of real appreciation and that significant financial 234 Latin American Policy resources by the banking sector are made much more accessible to the private sector for investment purposes. The financial reform proposed by the government seems to be moving in the right direction on some aspects such as the revival of development banks, but it is far from clear that it will be sufficient to allocate credit to investment in all the required activities and regions to accompany or support high rates of economic growth. The president’s announcement about the creation of a large new fund to finance small and medium businesses and of an Institute of Entrepreneurship is commendable, but the emphasis on small- and medium-sized firms instead of on selected activities or links in global value chains may not necessarily be the best option to support an industrial policy that may induce the structural transformation that the Mexican economy requires to achieve high and sustained rates of expansion.

What are the resources available for industrial policy? Will the incentives it will put into place be temporary, transparent, and result oriented, and have accountability mechanisms? Is there already the political consensus required to effectively maintain industrial policy as a key part of a development agenda for high economic growth and equality in Mexico? Will the major development goals set in the National Development Plan for the transformation of the Mexican economy be achievable through the type of industrial policy that the government is apparently considering? These are important questions whose answers will soon be known.

About the Author Juan Carlos Moreno-Brid is Deputy Director and Research Coordinator of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Subregional Headquarters in Mexico.

The author gratefully acknowledges the valuable research assistance of Mr.

Jesús Santamaría. The opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily coincide with those of ECLAC or of the United Nations Organization.

Notes For in-depth analysis of Mexico’s macroeconomic reforms and trade liberalization from different perspectives, see Aspe (1993), Clavijo and Casar (1994), Ros (1993), F. Sánchez, Fernández, and Pérez (1994), Lustig (1998), Dussel (2000), Villarreal (2005), Moreno-Brid and Ros (2009).

For recent literature on industrial policies in Mexico, see De Maria y Campos, Domínguez, and Brown (2012), De Maria y Campos (2009), Capdevielle and Dutrenit (2012), Casalet (2013), De Leon and Sandoval (2012), Dussel (2012), Calderón and Sánchez (2012), D. Ibarra (2012), Guerrero de Lizardi (2012), Ruiz Duran (2010), Ruiz Nápoles (2001, 2004, 2006), Capdevielle (2005). For reviews of industrial policy in Latin America, see Melo (2001), Schrank and Kurtz (2005), Moreno-Brid and Paunovic (2008), Peres and Primi (2009), and Devlin and Moguillansky (2012).

The dynamism of Mexican non-oil exports after the macroeconomic reforms is well documented.

See Moreno-Brid and Ros (2009), Moreno-Brid, Rivas, and Santamaría (2005), C. A. Ibarra (2009, 2010), and Gallagher, Moreno-Brid, and Porzecanski (2008).

This means that the improvements in Mexico’s competitiveness in the international and domestic markets should increasingly be based not on low wages, but on higher productivity brought about by more investment and more activities based on knowledge-intensive processes that allow for higher value added and improved real wages in a context of expanding formal employment.

For the original formulations, see Kaldor (1966, 1975) and Thirlwall (1983). For empirical tests of Kaldor’s Laws in Latin America, see I. Sánchez (2010) and Carton (2008).

Multipliers were estimated by rolling regressions of the real GDP of the whole economy and of the nonmanufacturing activities, as a simple linear function of real GDP of manufacturing, both in logs.

Industrial Policy in Mexico 235 For an extended description, see Ciuriak and Curtis (2013).

For a historical analysis, see Chang (2002) and Peres and Primi (2009).

The full quote is illuminating for the case in point. “There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures” Shakespeare (1967) Act 4, scene 3, 218–224.


Amsden, A. (2001). The rise of the rest, challenges to the west from late-industrializing economies. Oxford:

Oxford University Press.

Aspe, P. (1993). Economic transformation: The Mexican way. London: MIT Press.

Bank of Mexico. (2013). Databank. Retrieved from http://www.banxico.org.mx Blecker, R. A., & Ibarra, C. A. (2013). Trade liberalization and the balance of payments constraint with intermediate imports: the case of Mexico revisited. Paper presented at LASA. New York, April 2013.

Calderón, C., & Sánchez, I. (2012). Crecimiento económico y política industrial en México. Revista Problemas del Desarrollo, 170(43), 125–154. Mexico, DF: UNAM.

Capdevielle, M. (2005). Globalización, Especialización y Heterogeneidad Estructural en México. In M.

Cimoli (Ed.), Heterogeneidad Estructural, Asimetrías Tecnológicas y Crecimiento en América Latina (pp. 101–126). Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank; ECLAC.

Capdevielle, M., & Dutrenit, G. (2012). Políticas para el desarrollo productivo y la innovación: desafío y oportunidad para la economía mexicana. In J. L. Calva (Ed.), Nueva Estrategia de Industrialización (vol. 7, pp. 153–185). México, DF: Juan Pablos Editor. Consejo Nacional de Universitarios.

Cardero, M. E. (2012). Una política industrial para México en el marco de la OMC y del TLCAN. In J. L. Calva (Ed.), Nueva Estrategia de Industrialización (vol. 7, pp. 65–78). México, DF: Juan Pablos Editor. Consejo Nacional de Universitarios.

Carton, C. (2008). Crecimiento económico en América Latina: evidencias desde una perspectiva Kaldoriana. Munich Personal RePEc Archive, Paper 8696, Library of Munich, Germany.

Casalet, M. (2013). Actores y redes públicas y privadas en el desarrollo del sector aeroespacial a nivel internacional y nacional: El cluster de Querétaro, una oportunidad regional. México, DF: FLACSO México.

Chang, H. J. (2002). Kicking away the ladder: Development strategy in historical perspective. London:

Anthem Press.

Chiquiar, D., Fragoso, E., & Ramos-Francia, M. (2007). Comparative advantage and the performance

of Mexican manufacturing exports during 1996–2005. Working Paper, N°2007-12. México, DF:

Bank of Mexico.

Cimoli, M., Dosi, G., & Stiglitz, J. E. (Eds.) (2009). Industrial policy and development. The political economy of capabilities accumulation. The Initiative for Policy Dialogue Series. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cimoli, M., Holland, M., Porcile, G., Primi, A., & Vergara, S. (2009). Growth, structural change and technological capabilities Latin America in comparative perspective. Sao Paulo: Escola de Economia de São Paulo.

Ciuriak, D., & Curtis, J. M. (2013). The Resurgence of Industrial Policy and What It Means for Canada.

IRPP Insight 2. Montreal: Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Clavijo, F., & Casar, J. (1994). La Industria Mexicana en el Mercado mundial: Elementos para una política industrial. México, DF: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

CONEVAL. (2013). Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social. Retrieved from http://www.coneval.gob.mx Cordera, R. (coord.) (2012). México ante la crisis: Hacia un nuevo curso de desarrollo. Lineamientos de política para el crecimiento sustentable y la protección social universal. México, DF: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

De Leon, A., & Sandoval, P. (2012). Política industrial, competitividad y productividad: una relación necesaria para el desarrollo. In J. L. Calva (Ed.), Nueva Estrategia de Industrialización (vol. 7, pp.

186–218). México, DF: Juan Pablos Editor. Consejo Nacional de Universitarios.

De Maria y Campos, M. (2009). El desarrollo de la industria mexicana en su encrucijada: Entorno macroeconómico, desafíos estructurales, política industrial. México, DF: IIDSES-UIA.

De Maria Y Campos, M., Domínguez, L., & Brown, F. (2012). La industria manufacturera en su encrucijada: evolución en los últimos treinta años y algunas consideraciones de política para el

futuro. In J. L. Calva (Ed.), Nueva Estrategia de Industrialización (vol. 7, pp. 279–308). México, DF:

Juan Pablos Editor. Consejo Nacional de Universitarios.

Devlin, R., & Moguillansky, G. (2012). What’s New in the New Industrial Policy in Latin America?

Policy Research Working Paper 6191. Washington, DC: World Bank.

236 Latin American Policy Domínguez, L., & Brown, F. (2003). Estructuras de mercado de la industria mexicana. México, DF: Miguel Ángel Porrúa Editores–UNAM.

Dussel, E. (2000). Polarizing Mexico. The impact of liberalization strategy. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner.

Dussel, E. (comp.) (2003). Perspectivas y retos de la competitividad en México. México, DF: UNAM, FE, CANACINTRA, and CDE UNAM-CANACINTRA.

Dussel, E. (2012). La manufactura en México: condiciones y propuestas para el corto, mediano y largo

plazos. In J. L. Calva (Ed.), Nueva Estrategia de Industrialización (vol. 7, pp. 79–115). México, DF:

Juan Pablos Editor. Consejo Nacional de Universitarios.

ECLAC. (2012, August). Structural Change for Equality: An integrated approach to development. Santiago de Chile: ECLAC.

Esquivel, G. (2010). De la inestabilidad macroeconómica al estancamiento es tabilizador: el papel del diseño y la conducción de la política económica. In Lustig, Nora (coord.), Crecimiento económico y equidad (pp. 35–78). México, DF: El Colegio de México.

Foro México. (2013). Foro México 2013: Políticas Públicas para un Desarrollo Incluyente. Retrieved from http://www.foromexico2013.org/Crecimiento Fundación Colosio. (2013). El Futuro que vemos: Memoria de los encuentros por el futuro de México.

México, DF: Fundación Colosio.

Gallagher, K. P., Moreno-Brid, J. C., & Porzecanski, R. (2008). The dynamism of Mexican exports: Lost in (Chinese) translation? World Development, 36(8), 1365–1380.

Guerrero de Lizardi, C. (2012). La Manufactura Mexicana, Diagnóstico de su Estructura y Programas Locales de Apoyo: Prácticas, logros y pendientes hacia una política industrial nacional, CEPAL LC/MEXL.1084. México, DF: CEPAL.

Hallberg, K., Tan, H., & Koryukin, L. (2000). Mexico: Export Dynamics and Productivity. Analysis of Mexican Manufacturing in the 1990s. Report 19864-ME, Latin America and the Caribbean Region, Washington, DC: World Bank.

Hanson, G. H. (2010). Why Isn’t Mexico Rich? NBER Working Paper No. 16470, Washington, DC:


Hausmann, R., Hwang, J., & Rodrik, D. (2005, December). What You Export Matters. Center for International Development, Working Paper No. 123. Boston: Harvard University.

Hernández Laos, E. (2005). Productivity Performance of the Mexican Economy. Vienna: United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Ibarra, C. A. (2009). Mexico’s slow growth paradox. CEPAL Review, 95, 83–102.

Ibarra, C. A. (2010). Exporting without growing: Investment, real currency appreciation, and exportled growth in Mexico. Journal of International Trade and Economic Development, 19(3), 439–464.

Ibarra, D. (2012, June 17). La Política industrial en México. El Universal. Retrieved from http:// davidibarra.com.mx/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/20100617-La-pol%C3%ADtica-industrial

-en-M%C3%A9xico.pdf INEGI. (2013). Sistema de Cuentas Nacionales de México (National Accounts System). Retrieved from http://www.inegi.org.mx Kaldor, N. (1966). Causes of the slow rate of growth of the United Kingdom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kaldor, N. (1975). Economic growth and the verdoorn law: A comment on Mr. Rowthorn’s article.

Economic Journal, 85, 891–896.

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