President Shimon Peres is expected on Monday to travel to Mexico at the invitation of his counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto, and will be heading an entourage of close to 150 people, including an 80 member business delegation.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said Pena Nieto is a friend of the Jews and the State of Israel, after meeting with the Mexican president in August.
The main purpose of Peres’ visit to the North American country is to strengthen and broaden strategic, diplomatic, economic and cultural ties.
Within the economic and cultural spheres, Peres will participate in two major events, the first being the Israel Mexico Business Conference, which he and Pena Nieto will open together with Carlos Slim, the richest man in Mexico. Slim, who is of Lebanese descent, plays musical chairs with Bill Gates for the title of the world’s richest person.
Peres and Slim have known each other for several years now, and have met at various international forums.
Some 500 people are expected to attend the two-day business conference in Mexico City.
There have been fluctuations in the volume of trade between Israel and Mexico, with a peak of $466 million in 2012, representing an increase of approximately 28 percent over the previous year, placing Mexico in 24th position among Israel’s trading partners.
Trade dipped again this year, with Israeli exports to Mexico standing at $265m., thus reflecting a 10% drop for the first nine months of 2013 in comparison with the same period in 2012. During the first three quarters of 2013 imports from Mexico decreased by 17% and amounted to $150m.
The purpose of the Israel-Mexico Business Conference is to encourage a trade and investment boost in both directions. In the forefront of the business delegation will be companies in the fields of military equipment, security, cyber security, UAV’s, technology, communication, pharmaceuticals, water and energy. The delegation will include representatives of Rafael, Teva, Amdocs, Netafim, Tamar Group, Strauss, Babcom, and Amiad. Also participating will be Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom.
The Mexican business group led by Slim will present the range of activities and possibilities for cooperation with Grupo Carso and America Movil to the Israeli delegation.
While in Mexico City, Peres will have a working meeting with Pena Nieto in which he will discuss issues such as the most recent developments vis-a-vis Iran’s nuclear program, the Israeli Palestinian peace process and the urgency of putting an end to the civil war in Syria.
Peres will also meet with ministers and parliamentarians and will address the Mexican Senate, focusing his remarks primarily on the strengthening of strategic, economic, diplomatic and security relations between Israel and Mexico.
He will be feted on two occasions by the Mexican Jewish community.
From Mexico City, Peres will travel to Guadalajara to officially open the Israeli pavilion at the city’s International Book Fair, which is the largest book fair in the Spanish speaking world with some 1,900 publishers representing more than 40 countries. The fair, which is the second largest international book fair in general after Frankfurt, Germany, usually attracts in the range of 700,000 visitors.
Israel was chosen to be the guest of honor at this year’s fair.
The 1,750 square meter Israeli pavilion will have areas in which Israelis can dialogue with visitors to the fair and will not only showcase national novelists and poets, but cultural icons from the visual and performing arts as well as academia.
More than 200 Israeli cultural activities are set to take place throughout the city. Israel’s ambassador to Mexico, Rodica Radian Gordon, told a press conference that the fair was showcasing the largest Israeli presence ever at a cultural event abroad. The cultural delegation includes: authors David Grossman, Etgar Keret, Judith Katzir, Eshkol Nevo, Zeruya Shalev and Eyal Megged; author and playwright Savyyon Liebrecht; author and illustrator Alona Frankel; author and producer Shira Geffen; script writer and author Benny Barabash; poets Naim Araidi, Hamutal Bar Yosef, Agi Mishol, Ronny Someck and Tal Nitzan; actress Gila Almagor, conductor Avi Ostrovsky, pianist Michael Tsalka; singers Ivri Lider and Ahinoam Nini; photographer Aliza Orbach; journalist and food critic Gil Hovav; and seven musical groups including Giora Feidman’s Klezmer Band, Hadag Nachash and Infected Mushroom.
Also part of the cultural delegation are Nobel Prize laureate Prof.
Ada Yonath, Israel prize laureates Prof. Anita Shapira and Prof.
Chava Turniansky, Israel Museum director James Snyder, and former president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Prof. Hanoch Guttfreund.
Last year, Israel and Mexico celebrated 60 years of diplomatic relations.