The first meeting of the Australian-Mexican Joint Expert Group (JEG) will be held in Adelaide on 17-18 April 2007. Australia and Mexico agreed to form a JEG in March 2006 to enhance bilateral commercial relations between our two nations. The decision to establish the JEG reflects the increasing importance of the bilateral economic relationship to both countries, and our shared desire to enhance it.
The JEG will study all available ways and means of strengthening bilateral economic, trade and investment relations between Australia and Mexico. The Australian and Mexican JEG delegations include government officials and private sector representatives. The private sector will be consulted throughout the JEG process.
The discussions will form the basis of a joint paper to be presented to the Australian and Mexican Ministers for Trade later this year for their consideration.
The Australia-Mexico bilateral economic and trade relationship is in very good shape. Mexico was Australia's largest merchandise trading partner in Latin America in 2006 with two-way trade worth $1.9 billion. Australia's exports to Mexico were valued at $846 million, dominated by coal. Meat, leather, live animals, dairy and a growing range of services are also exported. The trade in Australian education and training services has been especially strong. Australian food and wine brands are increasingly on sale in Mexico.
Imports from Mexico were valued at $1.05 billion and have increased significantly over the past decade. The major imports from Mexico were manufactures, particularly internal combustion piston engines, motor vehicle parts, telecommunications equipment and computers. On 10 April 2007, the Mexican giant Cemex, the world's third largest cement producer, increased its offer for Australia's Rinker Group Ltd to US$14.2 billion, winning management support for the largest takeover in the history of the global building-materials industry.
Mexico is one of the world's most important developing countries and a key economy in Latin America. Its size and geographical proximity to the world's largest economy and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partner, the United States, and very good links to markets in Central and South America, make it an attractive trading partner for Australia. Given complementary economic and trade profiles, there are strong prospects for expanding Australia-Mexico trade and investment. Closer economic relations could provide a foundation for Australia and Mexico to become major political and economic partners in the Asia-Pacific region and the Americas.
Australia will be represented by officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources.
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