Mexico, with a population fast approaching 100 million inhabitants, changed dramatically in the last decade and will continue to do so in the coming years. A new federal administration took office in December 2000 with a strong mandate to change Mexico for the better. President Vicente Fox has defined environmental protection as a matter of national security and will deal with the challenge accordingly. This strong commitment is expected to translate into a major boost in the demand for environmental technologies and services in Mexico. Expectations of further economic growth and stability bode well for the continued expansion of the Mexican environmental market and of opportunities for U.S. environmental companies.
Private-sector sources estimate the size of the Mexican environmental market at $3.9 billion per year and foresee a 7-percent market growth during 2001 and a 12-percent annual growth for the 2002–2005 period.
Increased private participation will be encouraged in every environmental sector because there are not enough government funds to pay for all the necessary programs and infrastructure. To succeed, the government must continue to strengthen the financial structures of municipal authorities, which will execute a growing number of environmental projects. Service fees will be used to attract private investment. A strong signal in this direction is President Fox’s recent proposal to increase water prices by 50 percent to help pay for needed infrastructure. Improving environmental infrastructure is the first environmental priority under the recently launched program National Crusade for Forests and Water. Development of this crusade illustrates both the magnitude of the challenge and the seriousness of the government’s commitment to attracting new private investment and to avoiding falling further behind in developing the needed environmental infrastructure.
Other areas, such as improving air quality in Mexico City, will remain priorities. Mexico City is undertaking a major assessment of its air quality and will present a final evaluation in July 2001. The findings will become the basis for developing a new 10-year air-quality improvement program. Similarly, a growing number of programs for the improvement of air quality (PROAIRE) will be developed for other urban areas during the Fox administration.
Enforcement authorities, leveraging a growing social awareness of the importance of sustainable development, will introduce a “green company” logo that will be displayed on the products of those companies exceeding compliance with environmental regulations.
Both municipal and hazardous waste programs and projects will also be promoted in the short run. Mexico City will need to develop a new major landfill, and federal environmental authorities will promote waste minimization, recycling, and transportation projects for hazardous waste.
Projects financed by multilateral institutions and federal environmental programs present the best short-term opportunities. Other opportunities exist within Mexico’s parastatal industries, especially the national oil company, PEMEX, and the national electric utility, CFE.
The Mexican environmental market will continue growing, thus creating a spectrum of new business opportunities for U.S. suppliers. The attractiveness of this market to suppliers from the United States and other nations will make it increasingly competitive.