His Excellency José Antonio Meade, the Foreign Secretary of Mexico, led a high-ranking delegation on a four-nation tour of the Gulf states that began Sunday, 2 March, 2014 with a visit to the United Arab Emirates, followed by visits to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The first ever visit of the Foreign Secretary to the four nations of the Gulf came on the sidelines of Mexico’s desire to strengthen communication and political contacts with these countries and with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
During his week-long tour of the region, Foreign Secretary Meade met with heads of state and government officials from the various foreign ministries, the heads of major investment agencies and the presidents of chambers of commerce. During his trip, he also visited GCC headquarters, where he signed a memorandum of understanding to establish political consultations between Mexico and the GCC countries.
The Mexican government is greatly interested in a closer relationship with these countries given the potential of their economies and their weight on the regional and international scene. Mexico, which has resident embassies in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait, established diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia in 1952 and with the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar in 1975. During his visit to Qatar, the Foreign Secretary also announced the opening of new diplomatic mission in Doha.
Accompanying the Foreign Secretary in this high-profile trip to the Gulf states were, in addition to the Foreign Ministry officials, representatives from Mexican Foreign Trade Bank (BANCOMEXT), ProMéxico, the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) and the National Infrastructure Fund (FONADIN), among others.
At the start of his four-nation tour of Gulf countries, the Mexican Foreign Secretary and his accompanying delegation held high-level meetings with UAE government officials on Sunday, 2 March, 2014. The purpose of the first stage of the tour through the countries of the Arabian Peninsula was to create ways to enhance the political dialogue, strengthen cooperation and boost trade.
In Dubai, Foreign Secretary Meade was received by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. During his discussions with Shaikh Mohammed, the foreign secretary repeated President Enrique Peña Nieto’s invitation for him to make an official visit to Mexico.
The Prime Minister was interested in Mexico’s development and its international importance. The Foreign Secretary reiterated the readiness of the Mexican government to strengthen its commercial, political and cooperative ties with the UAE. Shaikh Mohammed and the Mexican minister discussed ways of enhancing bilateral ties in line with aspirations of the two countries’ leaderships and governments for leveraging these ties, especially in areas of economy, trade, tourism and other sectors.
The Mexican minister expressed his admiration at the cross-cultural harmony in the UAE community, adding that more than 3000 Mexicans were living and working in the UAE and over 50,000 Mexican tourists visit the UAE yearly.
Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Emirates Group, Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State, Khalifa Saeed Suleiman, Director General of Protocol Department, Francisco Alonso Escobar, Ambassador of Mexico to the UAE, and entourage of the Mexican minister, attended the meeting.
In the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, Foreign Secretary Meade met with his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, with whom he reviewed the bilateral agenda and exchanged views on regional and international issues. Both officials agreed on the significant potential of the bilateral ties nearly 40 years after diplomatic relations were established between Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.
The two sides agreed to continue the political dialogue and bilateral consultations on issues of common interest, through mutual high-level visits and in multilateral forums. Regarding trade, they emphasized the complementary nature between the two economies and agreed on the need to promote reciprocal business missions to expand the economic relationship.
On the second-leg of his four-nation tour of Gulf States, the Mexican Foreign Secretary, along with the delegation of federal officials, then paid an official visit to Kuwait on Monday, 3 March, 2014. While in Kuwait, the foreign secretary met with His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, with whom he discussed the opportunity both countries have to strengthen their economic ties and cooperation. The meeting took place in Seif Palace, the administrative seat of the Kuwaiti government.
The Foreign Secretary was received by His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamed Al-Sabah, to whom he conveyed the invitation by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to visit Mexico this year.
Foreign Secretary Meade then met with the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Kuwait, His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. The two officials reviewed the bilateral agenda and agreed on the need to build on the momentum created by four decades of diplomatic ties and the existing agreements to forge closer ties in the context of strengthened political dialogue. Both officials stressed the progress made in strengthening the bilateral relationship following the opening of the Kuwaiti embassy in Mexico in 2010 and the Mexican embassy in Kuwait in 2011. During the visit, agreements to create a joint commission for cooperation and to eliminate visas for holders of diplomatic passports were signed.
The delegation accompanying the Foreign Secretary met with entrepreneurs and leaders of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kuwait, as well as with the President of the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), with the aim of promoting increased trade and investment.
Following his departure from Kuwait, the Foreign Secretary and his official federal delegation continued his trip with a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia on 4th and 5th of March.
While in Riyadh, the Foreign Secretary met with various authorities, including Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, Deputy Foreign Minister; and Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.At the meeting with Deputy Prime Minister bin Abdullah, Foreign Secretary Meade expressed Mexico’s interest in strengthening the political dialogue, boosting trade and investment and promoting bilateral cooperation.
The Mexican Foreign Secretary and the Saudi Crown Prince acknowledged that, 60 years after the establishment of diplomatic relations, both countries should develop their political, economic and bilateral cooperation ties. They also highlighted the similarities between their countries as emerging economies and G20 members.
The Foreign Secretary also met Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf, with whom he agreed on the need to strengthen the bilateral economic ties. Both officials recalled that Mexico and Saudi Arabia are committed to free trade and have the tools that enable them to increase bilateral trade between the two countries. During his meetings with Saudi officials and businessmen, Foreign Secretary Meade acknowledged the economic importance of Saudi Arabia and its prominence in the Islamic world, which is why Mexico is looking to strengthen the bilateral political dialogue.
On the second day of his official visit to Saudi Arabia, the Foreign Secretary met with the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and signed a memorandum of understanding on political consultations, which will further strengthen Mexico’s ties and dialogue with the six member countries of this regional organization.
On the last leg of his four-nation tour of Gulf States, the Mexican Foreign Secretary landed in Doha on 5 March, where he was received by His Highness the Prime Minister of Qatar, Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Thani. During their meeting, Foreign Secretary Meade reiterated the readiness of the Mexican government to strengthen its ties with Qatar, stressing its importance in the region.
The Foreign Secretary also met with His Excellency Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs. The two officials agreed that there are still great opportunities for bilateral cooperation, particularly in education, health, science and technology.
The Qatari government welcomed the opening of the Mexican embassy, and the Qatari foreign minister called it a gesture of friendship and closeness that would help to quickly strengthen the bilateral relationship. For its part, the Qatari government announced the upcoming opening of a diplomatic mission in our country.
Discussions during the meeting also dealt with bilateral relations, and co-operation in areas of common interest. Dr. al-Attiyah expressed his pride over the close relations between the two countries, wishing these relations more prosperity, progress and development.
For his part, the Mexican foreign minister stressed his country’s keenness to strengthen relations with the State of Qatar in all fields, noting the importance of opening embassies in both countries, which he said will contribute to consolidating bilateral relations. The meeting was attended by a number of officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Qatar has had an economic growth rate of 14 percent over the last ten years. Its current economic policy is aimed at diversifying its activities in order to become a center for manufacturing and financial services. In recent years, Qatar has quickly opened its economy.
In his various conversations with businessmen and government officials in Doha, Foreign Secretary Meade said there are areas of opportunity for investment in both countries, particularly in construction, tourism and the automotive industries.
On Thursday, 6 March, Foreign Secretary Meade concluded his highly successful official visit to the four Gulf nations of UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which included communication and contacts on the highest political, government and business levels. These talks helped forge bilateral relations in various fields, including promoting technical and scientific cooperation between Mexico and the GCC states, as well as exploring opportunities to attract investment, financing and trade to Mexico.