A five-day suspension of “non-essential” activities in Mexico that started May 1 will further batter an economy already suffering from drops in trade and tourism associated with the swine flu outbreak, said Salvador de Lara, Mexican consul general in Atlanta.

“In order to avoid contact the industry, the governments have stopped their usual activity.  This also impacts markets, also impacts consumption, so this altogether will make a hit in the economy.  We hope to recover very quickly,” he told GlobalAtlanta.

Without factoring in the flu’s impact, the International Monetary Fund projects that Mexico’s gross domestic product will decline by 3.7 percent in 2009.

Mr. de Lara said the swine flu’s negative impact on trade and tourism could boost that number to 4 percent.

Although both the World Health Organization nor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that travel restrictions would harm the global economy with little impact on the spread of what’s now being called the H1N1 flu strain, the U.S. and Canada have issued travel warnings for Mexico, the epicenter of the virus that has claimed a confirmed total of 17 lives so far.

Mr. de Lara said that Mexico’s neighbors to the north have gone about issuing those travel warnings correctly but was quick to note that Mexico isn’t the only place impacted by the virus and that tourism will suffer in more countries than just his.

As of May 2, the WHO said the U.S. has confirmed 160 cases of the H1N1 infection, while Mexico has reported 397 confirmed cases. Sixteen have died in Mexico, and one Mexican citizen died from the virus in the U.S.

Health officials say that eating pork does not spread the virus, but China has banned imports of pork from Mexico and the U.S.

Mr. de Lara said he has been busy interacting with the CDC, helping Mexican citizens and paying close attention to developments in the Atlanta area.

He was speaking at an event with Canadian Consul General Brian Oak on the economic benefits of Nafta.

The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Council for International Visitors sponsored the event at the residence of Wayne Reece, principal of Reece & Associates public affairs law firm.


As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...