Damaged Mexican-Chinese trade relations got a second chance this week with the signing of a preliminary agreement between the two countries to develop a major new industrial park in Mexico.
State-owned contracting behemoth China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) signed the accord on Tuesday (27 October) to build the park, said to be 500 hectares in area, in the western Mexican state of Jalisco, Reuters reported.
If it goes ahead the project could help reset relations between the two countries after Mexico angered China late last year by cancelling a $3.7bn high-speed rail project.
It would also open the gates for Chinese investment into Mexico, levels of which have lagged well behind other countries in the Americas.
The park would accommodate Chinese manufacturers setting up in Mexico, and provide a potential gateway to the US for Chinese products.
A site has not been identified but Jalisco state has Mexico’s second biggest city, Guadalajara, which sits strategically between the biggest Mexican container port, Manzanillo, and the industrial belt of central Mexico with its trade and transport links to the US.
"This is going to be a key source of jobs that will have an impact not just in our state, but also nationally," Jalisco state governor Aristoteles Sandoval (pictured) said in a statement, Reuters reported.
The accord signed Tuesday between Governor Sandoval and Liu Yueping, Americas chief of CCCC, commits the two sides to carry out a six-month feasibility study to identify a suitable location for the park.
It sees Mexican officials making two trips to China to assess which manufacturing companies would set up in the park.
State officials told Reuters the plan is to develop a site of around 500 hectares (1,235 acres), with the Jalisco government paying for half the land, and the Chinese the rest.
Paying for the park’s development would fall to the Chinese alone, they added.
Between 1999 and June 2015, Chinese direct investment in Mexico was only $380m, less than Chinese FDI into Ireland, Puerto Rico and Taiwan.
Photograph: Jalisco state governor Aristoteles Sandoval (Aristotelessandovaldiaz.mx)