Gisela Sigmund (Project Manager, ProMexico Trade and Investment)

30.07.2010 - Interview conducted by Joel MacMillan

Q1. With the ever increasing pace of globalisation and a growing interdependence, how important do you believe participation in the international economy to be for the economic success of a state?

It’s a very important thing as every country has to create its own brand, and focus strategies around this brand. There has to be a focus so everyone knows what the brand represents and which direction it is headed. It’s like a tree - the root is what embodies the brand the most, but as the tree grows, it grows branches which represent different aspects of nation brand because it is always changing and growing.

Q2. To what extent is nation-branding necessary for a state to succeed in the international economy? Would you rate other concepts and initiatives, similar or different to nation branding, as even more pivotal?

Nation branding is very important because you can have a presence with many organizations, and have co-branding partnerships with private organizations to help strengthen a nation’s brand.

Q3. Given the prominence of culture differentiation in nation-branding, what characterises ProMexico’s work in terms of accentuating certain cultural differences of Mexico?

The great thing about the idea of nation branding in a globalized world is that many nations come together. Every nation has to promote what they have, but Mexico is just one of many countries that shows what is has to offer. ProMexico is a very big institution that has established itself recently and helps the Mexican economy by attracting foreign investment and promoting exports to other countries. It’s great that Mexico has this agency to go out and promotes Mexico to other countries and analyze how other countries work and what Mexico can offer them.

Q4. How can nation branding help serve a state's cultural diplomacy efforts?

The interaction and informing other countries what a nation is all about is one of the practicums to improve a nation. It’s important to see what other countries are doing as well to see how you can improve your own brand.

Q5. There are misconceptions surrounding Mexico, but when you take a closer look you see a large and growing economy, a large student and young workers population, and a place that is attracting foreign investment from all over the world. What are some things that ProMexico and the government do to help change these false perceptions?

We are actively involved in events such as this Nation Branding conference. We also do many presentations and seminars at other conferences as well. We also have many people registered with ProMexico and we always inform them about the news in Mexico, and what the situation is really like. We also communicate with students as ProMexico will go to different universities abroad and show students what Mexico is really like and get them to focus on the positive aspects of Mexico and not what they might see or hear in the news.

Q6.When NAFTA was created, it was intended to enhance trade between Canada, Mexico, and the USA. However today, the benefits of NAFTA as it pertains to Mexico as leveling off. With programs such as ProMexico, how has this helped attract more foreign investment from countries other than the USA and Canada?

The NAFTA agreement has been around for a while now, so the economic relationship between Mexico, Canada, and the USA will always be very strong, and NAFTA is still helping Mexico today. But ProMexico is also working hard to promote Mexico to other countries as we have seven offices around the world and we co-ordinate missions with local stakeholders in various sectors and we have them travel to Mexico to help attract foreign investment. ProMexico focuses on ten specific industries such as automotive, medical technology, and aerospace. We have to make an analysis of Mexico’s industries over the next ten years and focus on these industries.

Q7. One of the challenges branding vacation and resort countries such as Mexico, is that many people only see it as just a vacation destination and nothing else. What are some things that ProMexico can do to help change these perceptions and attract investment?

The fact that we are seen as a resort and vacation country will always exist, and we cannot change this. You have to embrace the tourism side as its part of it, but if you package it with another concept it’s effective. We market Mexico as a retirement and a “second home” destination, so there you combine the benefits of tourism with investment.