In terms of global competitiveness, Mexico ranks 58th among 142 nations—and U.S. taxpayers are stepping in to help raise that ranking.
Increased credit access, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, is one of the targeted improvements the Obama Administration is hoping to accomplish through the Mexico Competitiveness Project II, or MCP II.
A $22 million contract that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded to Abt Associates, Inc., will support Mexican-government efforts to help businesses as well as to institute system-wide reforms.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based research- and program-implementation consultancy will work with USAID “to enhance Mexico’s economic competitiveness, ultimately contributing to more equitable, sustainable economic growth and job creation,” according to a project Statement of Work.
The World Economic Forum in a 2011-2012 index cited numerous reasons for Mexico’s low international-competition ranking. According to the WEF report, among the biggest obstacles to doing business in Mexico are “crime and theft, corruption, inefficiency of government bureaucracy, access to financing, and tax regulations,” USAID noted.
The program initially will focus on reversing the lack of transparency in governmental policies and processes, as WEF had given Mexico such a low ranking for public mistrust of politicians as well as chronic “diversion of funds.”
Strengthening regulatory policy and institutions and supporting the implementation of labor law reform—which the Mexican Congress is considering—are among other MCP II goals.
MCP II is one of many programs that the Obama administration says are complementary to one another, tackling various issues including economics, climate change, and justice system reform.
The program, according to USAID, will contribute to the success of the Merida Initiative, which the agency describes as “an historic program of cooperation that acknowledges the shared responsibilities of the United States and Mexico to counter the drug-fueled violence that has threatened citizens on both sides of the border.”
Another U.S.-funded Mexican endeavor underway includes PROJUST—the Mexico Promoting Justice Project.
PROJUST will provide technical assistance to several Mexican states seeking justice-system reform, which USAID says will contribute to broader U.S. and Government of Mexico efforts “to mitigate conflict, reduce impunity, and promote a more transparent and efficient justice system.”