Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez ensured strengthened commercial ties with Mexico during the courtesy visit of Ambassador of Mexico to the Philippines Julio Camarena Villaseñor recently.

Both sides are also discussing the establishment of a Joint Economic Committee (JEC) that will further the bilateral trade and investment between the Philippines and Mexico. On his part, Ambassador Villaseñor expressed Mexico’s interest to the Philippines as an economic gateway to the ASEAN region, further emphasizing that the Philippines is a priority area for investments in Asia.

Currently, the two countries’ combined investments have reached at some US $6 billion. Some US $2 billion worth of investments from Mexico will be allocated to the Philippines, bulk of which will be from the telecommunications sector.

Mexico, a strong economic ally of the Philippines, has poured its biggest investments in the Philippines compared with other ASEAN economies. The ambassador mentioned that Mexico invests more in the Philippines than China, Japan, Korea and other Asian countries. In fact, among Mexico’s two largest companies, CEMEX, a multinational building materials company and FEMSA, a world-leading Coca-Cola bottler company, are both present in the Philippines.

“Our long-shared history with Mexico makes it easier to understand each other’s interest,” added Sec. Lopez.

For more than 250 years now, Philippine-Mexico commercial ties have become part of major turning points in the history of the world’s commerce. The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, witnessed not only the two-way exchange of products, but also exchange in population and norms.

Historical accounts show that Mexico sent some 250,000 Mexican Silver pesos, collected in taxes, to the Philippines to enable the Spaniards to stay in the country. The first Philippine governor-general was Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, a former mayor of Mexico City.

In 1945, when the Philippines was under the Japanese occupation, the Mexican Airforce with the Squadron 201, was one of the forces alongside the United States, that helped liberate Manila. That was the only time that the Mexican Airforce left Mexican territory to fight for an international war.

“The Philippines is eager to know that one of our strong commercial allies, Mexico, has expressed its keen interest in the country,” said Sec. Lopez, adding that the Philippines will continue to maximize economic opportunities with Mexico, including by attracting more investments by easing the process of doing business in the country.

In 2015, Mexico ranked as the Philippines’ 28th trading partner (out of 223), 19th export market (out of 211), 40th import source (out of 203), and 2nd major trading partner out of the 21 Latin American countries.

The DTI, through its Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC), recently opened its first office in the Latin American Region in Mexico City office. PTIC-Mexico will cover areas including Central and South America. Ambassador Villaseñor welcomed said initiative.