Affinities, rather than the geographical proximity between two countries, are often the true basis for a close relationship. This is certainly the case for the friendship that Mexico and New Zealand have developed throughout the years.
Diplomatic relations between both countries were established a little over four decades ago. Several years went by before embassies were accredited both in Mexico City and in Wellington. But very soon the complementary nature of our economies and the values that Mexicans and New Zealanders have in common allowed stronger ties to develop.
Economic exchanges have, so far, been the driving force in our relationship. Two-way trade reached $629 million in 2013. New Zealand's exports to Mexico consist mainly of dairy products and sheep meat; whereas Mexican exports to New Zealand comprise, for the most part, vehicles, telephones, and beer.
There is, undoubtedly, considerable scope to enhance bilateral trade. On one hand, Mexico's significant internal market, proximity to the US and consistent progress in the World Bank's "Ease of Doing Business Index" - the country moved up four places in the most recent rankings to reach number 39 out of 189 economies - make it an attractive business partner. On the other, New Zealand's high per capita income and enviable position in the World Bank rankings - second, only after Singapore - speak for themselves.
Mexico's recent progress has been largely the result of a wide ranging series of structural reforms promoted by President Enrique Peña Nieto and approved by the main parties represented in the Mexican Congress. This set of constitutional and legal changes has created a new platform to promote productivity, fair competition and stronger social and political institutions throughout the country. They are important steps in Mexico's modernisation, but much remains to be done in order to strengthen the country's institutional framework. These will be key domestic priorities for the years ahead.
Direct involvement in the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership also provide both New Zealand and Mexico with new opportunities to enhance their bilateral relationship.
And the latter's observer status in the Pacific Alliance, a grouping of Latin American countries that favour free trade, along with greater ease of movement for services and people across borders, further attests to our shared values and our vision for the future.
New Zealand's success in securing a place on the UN Security Council is an important achievement that reflects the country's good standing in the international community. It is, as New Zealand Prime Minister John Key remarked, "a victory for the small states that make up over half the United Nations membership".
Mexico is convinced that New Zealand will continue to play a positive role in the conduct of world affairs, as it has done consistently in the past. We have a strong record of cooperation on many salient issues within the UN system. And we will be ready to continue to work closely with New Zealand at the UN and other multilateral forums to promote peace, security and greater prosperity around the world.
My stay in New Zealand will allow me to follow up on different initiatives and projects that were discussed during Prime Minister Key's official visit to Mexico in March 2013. I am confident that this will lead to closer cooperation in multilateral forums, to improved people-to-people contacts (especially in education and tourism), and to an ever-growing economic partnership between Mexico and New Zealand.
José Antonio Meade Kuribreña is Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs and began a visit to New Zealand yesterday.