Jessica Bensemann, 2016 Nuffield Scholar
I am currently in Mexico City on a temporary assignment for four months as Acting Deputy Head of Mission in the New Zealand Embassy.
It’s an interesting time to be in the region, with the recent conclusion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the on-going renegotiation of NAFTA.
Free Trade Agreement negotiations are also underway between New Zealand and the Pacific Alliance countries of Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia. The role of the Embassy is to gather information about the negotiations by meeting with government and industry stakeholders.
My learnings from Nuffield enable me to understand the broader geo-political dynamics at play in production and trade, particularly related to agriculture and food.
The concept from my report of how a country’s external strategy is driven by their culture and geographical location applies also in Mexico, where they have become a strong manufacturing country based on lower cost labour, with supply chains integrated into the United States.
Mexico is New Zealand’s largest trading partner in Latin America, and while food and beverage exports dominates the profile, there are an increasing number of innovative New Zealand companies seeing Mexico as a platform for entry into the region.
A period of disruption in traditional international relationships presents opportunities for New Zealand to think about new business models that respond to the needs and challenges facing other countries in this period of uncertainty.