We maintain our stance that security policy is likely to be the Achilles heel of President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration. Although the government announced that in February 2013, Mexico saw the least number of drug cartel-related deaths in 40 months, a poll conducted by a local news source suggests that citizens believe violence has risen during the first months of the new president's term, with a geographic breakdown showing that there is no region in which citizens perceive that the security situation has improved.
Nevertheless, the country enjoys a strong, formalised security relationship with the US, an expanding manufacturing base and an economic framework of low-costs and free-trade policies. Mexico's armed forces do not take part in UN overseas missions, meaning the country has not attracted the sort of terrorist attention experience by other pro-US Latin American nations. Even the country's main security issues - the drug cartels - could improve (or at least change) in the near-term as arrests and military operations lead to fragmentation among some key drug gangs. That said, corruption among police, army and paramilitary units have compromised some security initiatives in the past; alleged human-rights violations by state forces have also been raised.
The next decade looks set to be challenging for Mexico owing to a weak security situation, high levels of income inequality and endemic corruption. That said, our core view remains that the country will end the decade in a better position than where it is starting, with potential for some economic reform and a modest improvement in the country's security situation which will strengthen Mexico's political risk profile.
In industry news, BMI sees defence expenditure expanding by 7.0% to MXN87.1bnn (US$6.9bn) in 2014, with spending as a percentage of GDP remaining static at 0.5% until 2017. BMI expects defence spending growth to be erratic in peso terms, dipping by 2.6% in 2015. Expenditure is expected to reach MXN104.19bn (US$9.39bn) at the end of our forecast period in 2021.
A number of defence and security highlights across 2013 include:
- An April 2013 report from Aviation Week revealed how Mexico was aggressively broadening its industrial base from electronics and automobiles, into high-tech aerospace products.
- In October 2013, aerospace manufacturers Beechcraft announced a follow-on sale of 6 more T-6C+ military trainers to the Mexican Air Force.
- A February 2013 report revealed that Eurocopter had opened a 12,000m2 facility in the central state of Queretaro to supply Airbus and its own range of helicopters.
- The US military in January 2013 revealed closer cooperation on equipment procurement with the Mexican armed forces. Army Maj. Gen. Francis G. Mahon, Northern Command's director for strategy, plans and policy revealed how Mexico was modernising aviation platforms, in particular, using US State Department help to upgrade its RC-26 aircraft and acquire UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for the Mexican Navy.