@Latam Summit. Mexico: Challenges & Opportunities

A day after a comprehensive introduction to the economic opportunity of Brazil, the Latin American Advertising & Media Summit on Wednesday opened the discussion around the opportunities -and challenges- surrounding yet another Latin American colossus: Mexico.

Country Focus: Mexico featured Jorge Laverde, Marketing Head of Latin America North of Nokia; Gerardo Llanes, CMO of the Mexico Tourism Board, and John Price, managing director, Americas Market Intelligence, who took the opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by the newly inaugurated President, Enrique Peña Nieto.

While panelists agreed that Mexico still faces many challenges, namely the growing violence fueled by the increasingly powerful drug-lords, they also said to be bullish about the country.

“Mexico is everybody’s bet in the next 5 years,” said Price, who has studied Mexico and is considered an expert in Latin American markets.

Yet, one has to be cautious and avoid overhyping an economy. “Overhyping an economy can make money leave with the push of a button,” said Llanes, from the Mexico Tourism Board. “We have to beware the capital golondrino (speculative, hot money,) which can be a serious risk. […] We need more companies investing in plants, in factories;  that is productive capital that stays in a country.”

The panel was moderated by Santiago Durán, Digital & Catalyst Director of Havas Media Mexico who took the stage wearing a “Se Habla Digit@l” T-shirt. Durán asked the panel to weigh in on the recent telecom reform in Mexico, a move that doesn’t necessarily spell good news in a country dominated by two huge media monopolies. “I’m not sure you can have the most powerful companies end their monopoly by letting one [Televisa] have some phone business and the other [Carlos Slim’s Grupo Carso] have some TV,” said Llanes. “I’m afraid we will have two bigger monopolies.”

On the positive side, the panelists highlighted the digitization of Mexicans and their growing access to the Internet. “We have seen a higher penetration of Smartphones in the last 2 to 3 years,” said Nokia’s Laverde.

In addition to growing mobile access, the panel praised a government push to increase the number of Mexicans connected to the web to 60 million people, compared to 40 million today.