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Vicente Fox

MEXICO - Economy

Over 200,000 people visit Centro Fox every year

Former President of Mexico and Director, Centro Fox

Bio

Vicente Fox was born in Mexico City on July 2, 1942, the second of nine children, fruit of the marriage between José Luis Fox, a farmer by trade, and Doña Mercedes Quesada. A graduate of Iberoamericana University, where he gained a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at their campus in Mexico City, he subsequently took a diploma course in Senior Management taught by professors of Harvard Business School. In 1964, he joined the firm Coca-Cola de México as a Route Supervisor. He eventually became regional CEO of the company for Mexico and Latin America, the youngest person to hold such a position in the firm. Later moving into a successful political career, he has also served as an advisor to the Mexican-American Chamber of Commerce and as Director of Grupo Fox.

"I give about 48 conferences a year and I donate what I get paid to the foundations."

Why did you decide to start an NGO, and what is the mission of Centro Fox?

When I left the administration, I decided I wanted to do more for other people. My wife and I have three foundations that we have created and funded thanks to our donors. The core of what we do is around leadership; every year we have over 200,000 people that visit this center. We want to touch each and every one of them with leadership attributes. We implemented this in the form of education through seminars associated with different universities in Mexico and abroad. Secondly, we do some think tank activities and work on key issues in Latin America. All of this is addressed with high priority for people with scarce resources and who live precariously. We want everyone to have the same opportunities in life. The other two foundations carry out charitable initiatives and we sponsor a number of health programs, like tending to people who are paralyzed and are in wheelchairs.

How are your various foundations funded?

First, we have some generous donors. We approach foundations, friends, and corporations and ask them for donations. We are tax deductible in Mexico and also in some places in the US, which eases our fundraising campaigns in the US. Another source of funding is the conferences I give. In an average year, I give about 48 conferences and I donate what I get paid to the foundations. Other sources of funding include working with corporations and attracting FDI in Mexico and helping them to navigate our business environment to ensure that they are successful; the only thing we ask in exchange is that they become donors.

To what degree is technology an important element in Centro Fox’s work?

Leaders need technology, knowledge, and capabilities. And they also need the capacity to innovate and create. We are trying to kill two birds with one stone. We try to build compassionate leaders; otherwise, they will not transcend. These leaders need to be of a high yield and capacity. And that is why out of the poor and the humble families we try to build and promote that kind of leadership that is compassionate and promotes the skills needed to transform society.

What do you consider the Mexican economy’s strengths and weaknesses?

We are strong because Mexico is a successful nation and economy. We are the largest manufacturing hub in all Latin America. Manufacturing wise, Mexico is larger than the rest of Spanish speaking Latin America together. We are the most competitive manufacturing market in the world. Trump complains of Mexico taking jobs away from the US, but Mexico has gained jobs because of its capacity to attract investment. Just in the Bajio alone, we have 11 huge manufacturing automobile plants. We do not only have the three main US automobile companies, we also have Toyota, BMW, Mazda, Nissan, and all the rest. That shows the power of Mexico’s manufacturing capacity and the competitiveness of the country. Now, Mexico is moving into the next phase which is a knowledge economy with technology, innovation and creativity. All of this is where we want to be participating and nurturing. Even though we have many universities providing students with engineering degrees, we are still lagging behind in terms of education as compared to other countries. Mexico still has big challenges to face, such as corruption. We must reinvent ourselves and eradicate this culture of corruption, and changing cultures takes years so we must make sure that our democracy fights against corruption, while transparency and accountability become the number one thing in Mexico.

What is your perspective on NAFTA and relations with the United States?

We had a great NAFTA for 22 years. This is a success story for the US, Canada, and Mexico. It benefits the US by having a huge consumer market in Canada and Mexico. Companies have become NAFTA corporations, in other words, they have increased its competitiveness by being present in the three countries. Working together is a great thing for the three of us but mainly for the US because it has the largest companies in the world. We are not the little guy in the backyard of the US. We are a solid and reliable partner of the US and Canada. Our trade balance among the three is the largest in the world and reaches a trillion USD trading a year and we are even. Mexico is proud of this and we recognize how successful NAFTA has been over the last 22 years. The difference of income between the Mexican and the US side of the border used to be 10:1; this is why the border is really an economic problem and not a political one. If you look at the border between Canada and in the US, there are no problems because the ratio is 1:1. Thus, my focus for the next generation is to reach the breaking point of 1 to 1. In other words, the income in each side of the border will be the same.

What should the next Mexican president do to reassure international investors regarding US-Mexican relations?

Well, it is not Mexico who caused this turmoil. It is the disrupter and the destroyer also known as Trump who decided to break all the written rules of the economy. He has harmed Mexico, their main partner too much, and he believes that by patting our back he can go back to how things were before. We were deeply offended and that will not change in the very short term. Now the beast has to be leashed. He has to be domesticated and educated on his ignorance. Otherwise, things will remain uncertain and corporations will hesitate to invest not only in Mexico, but also in the US.

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