H E Luis Alberto Barrero Stahl
It has been a little more than 19 months since H E Luis Alberto Barrero Stahl, presented his credentials to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah as the first ever resident ambassador of Mexico to the State of Kuwait. Since then Ambassador Barrero Stahl has endeared himself to the government and people of Kuwait.
In a wide ranging exclusive interview with The Times, in his panoramic office overlooking the Arabian Gulf, Ambassador Luis Alberto Barrero Stahl spoke on Mexico’s emerging economy, relations with Kuwait and the great economic potential between the two countries.
As a career diplomat with more than 30 years of experience in the Mexican Foreign Service, Ambassador Barrero Stahl has an impeccable record and enviable background for a diplomat. He served as assistant professor of Public International Law and Foreign Policy Organization in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FCPS) at the National University of Mexico (UNAM). He also earned his PhD in International Relations and has worked as a researcher at the Centre of International relations at UNAM.
Ambassador Luis Alberto Barrrero Stahl was also a fellow/scholarship recipient of the governments of France and Mexico. He holds a Master Degree in Public Administration (Economy and Finances) from the International Institute of Public Administration (IIAP) and a Doctorate degree from the University of Paris.
At the Mexican Institute of Foreign Trade (IMCE) he served for 5 years as director for Mexico’s Trade Commissioners in the US and Canada. While in the Mexican Foreign Service (SEM) Ambassador Barrero Stahl served in Austria, Malaysia, Thailand, Germany, Greece, as well as in the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations in New York.
He has published several articles on foreign relations, economy, trade and cultural affairs and has been honored with decorations including one from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his 25 years in Foreign Service as well as from the governments of the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Romania.
Before being appointed as Ambassador to Kuwait, H E Ambassador Luis Alberto Barrero Stahl served as Mexican Ambassador to Romania and then Nigeria where he is credited with the opening of the Mexican Embassy in Abuja while concurrently accredited to the government of Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. He is also now accredited as Ambassador to Qatar.
“Mexico and Kuwait have diplomatic relations since 1975, and have common positions on various international issues,” he reveals in his opening remarks. “Kuwait is a dynamic country and Mexico an emerging economic powerhouse, and we need to create synergy between the two countries,” Ambassador Barrero Stahl points out.
Bilateral trade between the two countries has not reached its full potential, discloses Ambassador Barrero Stahl while detailing a clear-cut roadmap he has in mind to ensure that trade relations take a considerable leap. “It is very important to have exchange of visits between businessmen of the two countries to ensure that they see for themselves the opportunities available,” he points out.
The ball has already been set rolling with few visits taking place between the Chambers of Commerce of the two countries. Some agreements have already been signed which include the one to avoid double taxation and another for investment protection.
“We are in the negotiating phase of seven new agreements that include health, aviation, tourism,” he revealed. Also plans are on to have business seminars, bring Mexican cultural groups, have food festivals, send business and tourism delegations from Kuwait to Mexico to create an awareness and taste of Mexico.
A visit by the president is also planned sometime in the near future as well as plans to bring the Mexican football team to play a friendly match with Kuwait.
Ambassador Barrero Stahl likewise pointed out that the Kuwait Ambassador to Mexico is also working very hard to promote Kuwait back home. This effort will definitely see results in the coming years. Ambassador Samee Hayat is a very good colleague and dynamic person.
Ambassador Barrero Stahl is highly impressed with his stay in Kuwait and praised the leadership for their warm hospitality and cooperation at every level. He was particularly grateful to former Prime Minister and good friend of Mexico, H H Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al Sabah, whose special initiative ensured the opening of the embassies in their respective countries.
“Mexico is giving more attention to this part of the world by physically being present, with embassies in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait covering with their respective concurrences the whole Middle East. Soon a new mission will be opened in Qatar.
Mexico has a very open economy worth more than a trillion dollars and possesses unmatchable potential in terms of growth and investment. The country’s new government led by President Enrique Pena Nieto, has prioritized structural economic reforms and competitiveness giving an impetus to the private sector in particular and a vigorous push for the country in general.
Elaborating, he said investment opportunities that exist in Mexico include seaports, airports, railroads, telecommunications, electricity generation, natural gas distribution, tourism and aerospace industry. The energy sector in total is also being modernized.
Besides the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed with Canada and the United States of America plus the Strategic Agreement with the European Union, Mexico has free trade agreements with more than 43 countries in Latinamerica , Japan and the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region– putting more than 90 percent of its trade under free trade agreements.
In 2012, Mexico formally joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations (TPP) and now is working hard in the “Pacific Alliance” together with Peru, Colombia and Chile. Mexico is also expanding its already good economic and trade bilateral relations with China.
In the tourism sector Mexico is ranked among the top-ten most visited countries of the world. Last year almost 24 million tourists visited Mexico. The government also announced an investment of 10 billion dollars in 176 touristic projects around 27 locations in Mexico, adding 33,000 extra hotel rooms. There are around 32 UNESCO world heritage sites in Mexico.
Regarding visas he said Kuwaitis can have visa on arrival to Mexico if they have a valid US visa for 6 months, otherwise they would need a visa from the embassy in Kuwait. Ambassador Barrero Stahl also informed that there were around 300 Mexican nationals residing in Kuwait, some employed in the oil and gas sectors.
With his affable nature, Ambassador Luis Alberto Barrero Stahl has already made many friends in Kuwait but it is with his rich and varied experience and vast resource of knowledge that he has been able to accomplish so much in such a short time. Mexico will be celebrating its first ever National Day in Kuwait on Sept 15, and indeed it is a proud moment for Ambassador Barrero Stahl.