Carlos Salinas de GortariMr President, My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen.
First, Mr President, may we give you and the members of your distinguished delegation a very warm welcome to Number 10 Downing Street on this, your official visit as our honoured guest.
We are very pleased that you have brought a large delegation of Ministers, members, members of the media and advisers with you so that we may entertain you this evening and show you our country.
You have already had a very exacting visit, being busy in Cambridge and giving so many interviews and speeches in the City, a very successful speech to the CBI, I hope they took your message that you want more investment in Mexico, I will give it again myself in a moment. A very, very busy visit and going on to other capital cities in Europe. We are sure it will be a great success there, as it has already been here.
I remember that I paid a very brief visit to Mexico in 1981, first to Cancún where there was a north-south dialogue conference, and then to Mexico City, and I came away impressed with the enormous potential that there is in Mexico. That potential is still there, very much there, even more so today.
We remember the visit of your predecessor whom you served as a Minister, President de la Madrid. We remember his integrity and his dedication and we remember that among other things how he stood up to appalling national disasters, to which the whole world responded, we hope very helpfully, through earthquakes, volcanoes and tremendous mudslides, all of which he had to cope with and added to Mexico's problems but which brought admiration from the rest of the world as to how Mexico tackled those problems.
We first met, Mr. President, in Paris—a very good place to meet, in Paris—it was on a certain date, 14 July, there were something like 34 Heads of Government there and a lot of business was done that had nothing to do with Paris. And I remember your telling me then of your plans for tackling the problems of Mexico. They included deregulation, privatisation, encouraging foreign investment into Mexico, and of course dealing with Mexico's debt. All along true private enterprise lines, all along putting power back to the people, deregulating and having orthodox finance. [end p1]
You will understand when I say the message had a familiar ring and I can assure you that it would be successful and I know since then that you have pursued it very, very vigorously and already it has had great success as confidence in your country has been restored and many people who had previously taken their currency and their wealth out have now brought it back to Mexico, and industry is now going in there to invest for the first time for a long period and that you are privatising things and the people are realising the advantages of doing that.
So impressed was I that I actually obtained and read your first “State of the Nation Report” . It is indeed a very, very meaty document but also shows how your policies, in a very similar way to ours here, have been founded on your true beliefs.
If I might read from it, I am sure it would do our audience here a great deal of good to hear what other people believe in, as they have heard it so often from me.
It said this. “Mexico's crisis showed us that a larger state is not necessarily a more capable state. A state that owns more is today not a fairer state. The reality is that in Mexico a larger state has resulted in less capacity to respond to the social demands of our fellow citizens. The size of the state was growing while the well-being of the people was deteriorating.” I think I will have to do a State of the Nation Report and put similar things also into writing.
Of course it was absolutely fundamentally sound and we rejoice that you set out your beliefs and then followed them sturdily and that they are meeting with such good results. Because what you said sums up exactly our experience that by giving people back the power to run their own lives, you create prosperity which brings a higher standard of living and a higher standard of social services and you are already finding that and we would like to congratulate you upon your very great success.
We would like also to congratulate you, Mr President, on your very firm action of dealing with drugs and drug trafficking. It is a scourge that affects the world. You have been very active indeed. We both face the problems particularly of cocaine and of protecting our young people from its depredations.
You have taken very firm action and today we have signed two agreements between Mexico and this country: one for general cooperation with both keeping down the supply of drugs and trying to reduce the demand; and the second one in tracking down those who deal in drugs and in tracing through their financial gains so that they shall be denied them and they shall find neither safe haven as drug criminals nor shall they ever again be able to get their hands on the proceeds.
This is our thirteenth agreement that we have signed to this effect under the United Nations Convention. It is the first one that we have signed with Latin America and it is Mexico that has come forward to sign it.
And we hope that we shall join again in that great war on drugs which is a war that we eternally fight and that we shall the better fight it to the very great advantage of our young people. It is a great step forward. [end p2]
When one looks at the history of Britain and Mexico, we have quite a remarkably long history and culture of adventures together. It is true that at first you built a fort to keep out the ships of Sir Francis Drake, perfectly true. Equally true, that later you welcomed in our engineers and they helped to build a very famous canal which in fact managed to drain the valley of Mexico and helped to build some of your railways.
I find we built a lot of railways throughout the world, both in Latin America and in India. We really ought to be able to run railways very much better than we do in view of the experience we have had across the world in building other people's. I hope that we have taught you well on railways and that they are now run very well indeed. Ours are doing a great deal better and have quite a little way to go yet, but we have great hopes.
This century of course we know that we have had far fewer contacts with Mexico and that is really rather sad. And the point of your visit is to increase those contacts now. We believe in the same things, we have historical contacts. You come here wanting, hoping, seeking increased trade with Britain and increased investment from Britain to Mexico.
Now it so happens that we are the third largest investor in Mexico. But I have to confess, Mr President, that the gap between investor one and two and investor three is really rather large. So although we are the third largest investor, it is only one billion dollars and we would like it to be very much bigger.
I know that our industrialists will have been impressed with your presentation today, I know they will have been impressed with your record and I hope that many of them will heed your message and come and help and invest in Mexico to the great advantage and benefit of your people.
Mexico is a country which has led the way in many things, in the way in which you are tackling your debt and in the way in which you are bringing up your economy and I hope that you will be a model for others who also have problems, who will say: “Well, if Mexico can tackle it that way, we can too.”
A great deal has happened in Latin America recently. Democracy has spread more widely, there is a much more realistic approach to economic problems, Colombia has fearlessly taken on the drug producers—as has Mexico—and we are slowly returning to normal relations with Argentina.
All of this encourages us to enlarge our relations with Latin America and it seems to us that your visit, and Mexico, is just exactly the right way to start to do that. There is no better place to start than Mexico.
May I say thank you to you for your visit. May I salute your vision and realism. You in fact have our full support in your policies and I hope that our investors will take the opportunities which your country offers.
Your visit is a sign of Mexico's infinitely greater role in world affairs, which we know she is playing in these days under your Presidency. [end p3]
May I ask you, therefore, to rise and drink a toast to the health and success of the President and the Mexican people and to closer relationships between Britain and Mexico.
Your health, prosperity and friendship.