Mexico's Lopez Obrador Seeks To Calm Waters With Business Groups

By Jorge Valencia
Published: Saturday, July 7, 2018 - 5:05am
Morena - National Regeneration Movement
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (center) in a meeting with members of Mexico's Consejo Coordinador Empresarial and other business groups.

Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been sitting down with the country's top corporate executives this week in what has seemed as conciliatory meetings after a bruising presidential campaign, as some business groups urged employees to not vote for him. 

Still, investors and business groups on both sides of the border are eager to hear details on what will be the business environment during the administration of Lopez Obrador, who as a candidate referred to corporations as "the mafia of power." 

Mexico's biggest businesses are already making positive gestures. On Lopez Obrador's third day as president-elect, he made a hand-shake agreement with business groups to create job training programs for young people. Lopez Obrador pledged the government would pay the salaries of apprentices employed by Mexican companies as part of a $5 billion package of scholarships and job training, the Associated Press reported

In turn, some of Mexico's top corporate executives — including Daniel Serviteje, chairman of the multinational food maker Bimbo, and billionaire businesswoman Mariasun Aramburuzabala — made a video posted on social media platforms wishing him good luck. 

"We all want the new government to do well because we want Mexico to do very well," said Jose Antonio Fernandez, chairman of FEMSA, the Monterrey-based owner of the world's largest Coca-Cola bottler. 

And yet there are many questions. For example, on how the new administration will pay for the expansion of social programs Lopez Obrador has promised, such as the scholarships for young people or pensions for the elderly. 

"What we will be looking for in the next five months is how Lopez Obrador goes from campaign promises to specific policies and what those policies will cost," said Juan Carlos Hartasanchez, of the Washington-based consultancy Albright Stonebridge Group.

Lopez Obrador will take office in December.

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