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Slim says Mexico missed out before but can do a lot with NAFTA trade surplus now

Mexico City, Mexico — In a recent business summit, Telmex founder Carlos Slim says that Mexico has missed out on many opportunities, but says better models and proposals can help make Mexico stronger and more productive.

During the 2017 Business Summit in San Luis Potosi, businessman Carlos Slim said that Mexico has missed its opportunities to have greater economic growth. The president of Grupo Carso explained that “We missed the oil boom of the 1980s and 1990s. Not only did we spend that income of $50 billion, but we borrowed a similar amount.”

His issue is not necessarily the large trade surplus with the US under NAFTA, but more that the country has not taken advantage of the $63 billion imbalance.

“The trade surplus with the U.S. has generated important revenues, but those flows have been wasted by not investing them in productive ways at home,” Slim said.

In addition to wasting the flow of savings and the “benefits of NAFTA”, he says there are several things needed to improve the Mexican economy. The first, he says, is to generate employment. “We need the formation of a rising middle class that is better prepared and has better income to stimulate consumption and strengthen our economy.”

“The challenge”, he said, “is not only to achieve the 1.2 million jobs every year as President Enrique Peña Nieto has repeatedly expressed, but ones that are jobs of quality.”

He says that Mexico needs to refocus public spending on social programs, which should be transformed into “a kind of salary for certain groups in society that are not integrated into the formal economy.” Slim also says an important ingredient is changing the educational model, which takes into account tools like internet to continue studies.

Miguel Alemán, President of the Mexico Business Summit, coordinates the annual event that brings together leading private and public figures.

During the reception, Alemán praised Slim for the Carlos Slim Foundation and the Telmex Foundation having matched five-to-one the funds raised for victims of the September earthquakes bringing the total to $130 million USD.

During the meeting, Slim introduced a new idea, which is to pay housewives wages by reorienting public social programs that can be a burden on government budgets. He said that with a wage, homemakers would be able to increase their decision power.

When asked why he doesn’t run for president, Slim simply said, “I don’t have a political vocation. I like economics and social issues, but not politics. I can do a lot in these two areas.”