Mexico Could Help Central American Economy

Mexico and its main construction companies could help carry out a plan to spur economic growth and jobs in Central America to stem illegal immigration to the United States, a senior Mexican government official said on Friday.

Struggling to stop a record flood of child migrants to the United States earlier this year, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have drawn up a plan to improve energy supply and infrastructure in the impoverished and violent region.

Presented to U.S. and Mexican officials in New York in September, the proposal foresees spending billions of dollars on roads, ports, power networks and airports in the region between 2015 and 2019 to improve their economies.

How the plan could be funded is due to be discussed between the nations and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Washington on Nov. 14. Guatemala has said it hopes about $10 billion could be raised for the five-year plan, chiefly from the United States.

Mexico is also ready to contribute provided assurances are given by the Central American nations that the money is properly allocated, Sergio Alcocer, the Mexican deputy foreign minister responsible for North America, told Reuters.

Depending on how talks proceed, Mexico could provide loans, and companies with expertise in construction like ICA and Carlos Slim’s conglomerate Grupo Carso would be well suited to realize the projects, he added.

“I think it’s a scheme that could work very well,” Alcocer said, noting it was too early to say how much financial support Mexico could provide. “Everyone benefits, but it’s also a lot easier for a contractor such as one of these companies to take part than for an American company to do it.”

Mexico had discussed the idea with the Central American governments and now needed to bring Washington “into the equation” Alcocer added, noting that Mexico was also ready to work with Guatemala to improve the latter’s energy supply. (Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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