MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday said Mexico will get an investment boost on the back of the Ukraine war, predicting that capital once destined for Russia and other emerging economies will move into his country.
He cited an unidentified “financial report” for his assertion, and he also predicted a boost in economic growth and employment.
Mexico’s economy stagnated in the final quarter of 2021 and investment has been lackluster under Lopez Obrador, who has rattled businesses by calling contracts issued under previous governments into question, arguing they were tainted by graft.
“With this new economic crisis resulting from the war, Mexico becomes if not the first, then the second or third country with most investment opportunities in the world,” Lopez Obrador told a regular morning news conference.
The United States, Britain and the European Union have imposed tough sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, causing the Russian currency to tumble and the departure of foreign businesses.
“With Russia and with what’s happening in other countries that were considered emerging economies (and) very favorable for investment in the world, now there has been a shift and, fortunately, our country is in the top levels,” Lopez Obrador said.
Lopez Obrador was speaking at the opening of a new airport built to replace an earlier, partly-completed one he scrapped, a move that shook business confidence in Mexico.
Levels of gross fixed investment in Mexico were at the end of 2021 15% lower than when Lopez Obrador was elected in July 2018, according to data from the national statistics agency.
Mexico’s economy expanded about 5.0% in 2021 after shrinking 8.5% in 2020, its sharpest slump since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Mexican economy ministry has forecast growth of around 2.5% for 2022.
(Reporting by Diego Ore; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Dave Graham and Grant McCool)