Stronger ties with Mexico could boost textile sector

A fountain in Mexico City
A fountain in Mexico City
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YORKSHIRE’S textile industry could receive a boost from an initiative to forge closer economic links between Britain and Mexico.

A host of major British brands hope to cash in on ties that are due to be established by a state visit to the UK from the Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto, this week.

Luxury carmakers Lotus and McLaren are opening showrooms in Mexico City as part of a drive to increase their global sales. The toy brand Hamley’s has also chosen Mexico as its first foray into Latin America, joining other well-known British brands such as Thomas Pink and upmarket menswear brand Hackett London.

In 2013, Hackett London revealed that it was sourcing textiles from Yorkshire for a new fundraising product range for The Prince’s Trust. The Prince of Wales collection features a new version of the iconic grey and blue check cloth in a range of garments and accessories. The collection uses cloth sourced from mills such as Fox Brothers, Lovat and Bradford-based William Halstead.

According to UK Trade & Investment, trade between the UK and Mexico is enjoying double-digit growth, with bilateral trade in 2013 totalling £3.3bn, an increase of 15 per cent on the year before. Mexico is the UK’s fourth largest market for goods exports, and the UK is Mexico’s fifth largest inward investor. Mexico is the UK’s second largest trading partner in Latin America.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Mexico is an important growth market for our exports and British firms can also use Mexico as a base for wider operations throughout Latin America. Mexico is returning to the Formula One calendar this year which will fuel interest in McLaren and Lotus cars and British manufacturing more generally. The arrival of British toy store Hamley’s in Mexico City, to complement their existing stores around the world, is another sign of the appeal of British brands across the globe, and demonstrates how an introduction by UKTI can lead to great things.”

British exports to Mexico are expected to receive a further boost from the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between UK Export Finance and PEMEX, Mexico’s state-run fuel conglomerate to secure a line of credit of up to $1bn. This finance is intended to be used by PEMEX and its subsidiaries to buy services from UK exporters, including SMEs. Alongside the commercial announcements, the Government has also confirmed that a Mutual Recognition of Qualifications Treaty between the UK and Mexico will be signed to support higher education collaboration and create opportunities for research and innovation.

Greg Clark, the Universities, Science and Cities Minister, said: “We want the UK to be the number one destination for science and research which is why we welcome the best and brightest brains from around the world. This treaty will allow us to work closely with Mexico to push boundaries together and deliver exciting, innovative projects and opportunities for both countries.”

A programme is being staged throughout the year to celebrate the best of the arts and creative industries in both countries. These include the English National Ballet performing at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra performing in Mexico under the direction of Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra. The return of Formula 1 to Mexico in November, will be preceded by events showcasing the UK’s expertise in motorsport and advanced engineering.