x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Mexico and UAE 'share the same concerns'

Diplomatic ties between the UAE and Mexico strengthen after years if little to no dealings between the countries.

ABU DHABI // After years of little to no dealings, Mexico and the UAE have redoubled their diplomatic efforts.

On Wednesday the first Mexican Embassy in the country was inaugurated in the capital, high-level diplomatic talks were held and multiple trade agreements were signed.

"The UAE and Mexico are politically on the same side of many issues," said Patricia Espinosa, the Mexican secretary of foreign affairs. "We also share the same concerns on a lot of issues, ranging from climate change to food security."

While official diplomatic ties were established with the Central American nation in 1975, it was only in 2006 - after the election of incumbent president Felipe Calderon - that Mexico began to pursue stronger ties with the UAE.

In 2008 a consulate was opened in Dubai, while the UAE opened its embassy in Mexico City in 2010.

"This is my third visit in six years to the UAE," Mrs Espinosa said.

Politically, she said talks are continuing to establish a political consultation committee between the UAE and Mexican foreign ministries.

"We would like to not only focus on regional issues in the Middle East and Latin America but global ones with this committee," she said. The foreign secretary said Mexico supports the UAE's approach to resolving disputes.

"Both Mexico and the UAE agree on the use of international law and objective dialogue to resolve disputes and differences," she said.

Among the results achieved by talks held this week was an airlines partnership agreement that will result in direct air routes between the UAE and Mexico.

"The airlines partnership agreement will open the doors for more than one airline to fly to Mexican cities," she said, adding that flights could be expected to start in the near future. "At this time, the routes, timings and technical details have to be established," she said.

Mohammed Abushahab, the director of the Department of American and Pacific Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, described the agreement as "a very liberal one".

"It sets the framework for building a strong partnership between our civil aviation authorities," he added.

The agreement also allows the possibility of UAE airlines to transport passengers to and from Mexico from other countries. "Such a thing will allow for Mexico to become a hub for Latin America," said Mrs Espinosa.

Travel between the UAE and Mexico is already vibrant, she said. "Last year 15,000 Mexican tourists came to the UAE - mostly honeymooners looking for new destinations." After the launch of the airline routes, she said, Mexico would embark on a more aggressive tourism marketing strategy in the UAE and Middle East.

"We are currently in the top 10 tourist countries in the world and one of our objectives is that by 2020 we would like to be in the top five," she said.

Mrs Espinosa also discussed the possibility of a double taxation agreement with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as a protection of private investments agreement with UAE Government officials. Among topics discussed was the immediate need to stop the killing of innocent civilians caught in the Syrian conflict.

"In Syria, we are of the view of fully supporting the internal change process and helping the Syrian people build their institutions from within," she said.

Mexico does not, however, support the idea of a military intervention. "In some cases a military intervention can be useful to stop the immediate violence but it is not the only way," she said.