Overseas Private Investment Corp., a government agency that finances and insures small- and medium- sized U.S. businesses that want to expand into developing countries and emerging markets, may soon be reconsidered for acceptance into Mexico.
The Mexican constitution does not allow foreign businesses to seek jurisdiction outside of Mexico. This practice conflicts with OPIC’s policy of insuring a company’s access to U.S. courts and has kept the agency out of Mexico.
However, during an address to the Mexican American Business Chamber of Commerce-Atlanta, George Munoz, president of OPIC, said there may be a window opening for the agency through Nafta.
This could mean that small Atlanta businesses, including those owned by Mexican Americans, that need assistance to enter the Mexican market could be helped by the agency, Mr. Munoz said.
“Nafta already has international arbitration,” he said, “maybe there is a window there. Other than Cuba, Mexico is the only country in Latin America where we cannot offer OPIC services and it makes no sense.”
Mr. Munoz said that OPIC wants to help create jobs, revenue and partnership opportunities in Mexico and other emerging markets not only for U.S. gains, but also to encourage these countries to stay with the free market system.
If small U.S. companies could more easily enter Mexico, he said, “they would be likely to joint venture with Mexican companies. This is getting in the way of jobs and of businesses getting capital.”
Another factor in determining OPIC’s future status in Mexico is the upcoming presidential election.
Although OPIC is not a frontline issue in the election, said Bernardo Mendez, press attachÈ at the Consulate General of Mexico in Atlanta, the election could definitely effect the future of OPIC in Mexico.
“There is the recognition,” he said, “that maybe Mexico could take a more flexible approach to OPIC while not breaking Mexican law.”
The Mexican American Business Chamber of Commerce-Atlanta may be reached by telephone at (404) 264-1240 or by fax at (404) 264-1929.
The office of the Consulate General of Mexico in Atlanta may be reached by telephone at (404) 266-2233 or by fax at (404) 266-2302.