MONTERREY, Mexico – The government of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador decreed on Saturday the creation of a free zone along the United States border as part of a project to win investment, create jobs and reduce migration.
“It is a very important project for winning investment, creating jobs and taking advantage of the economic strength of the United States,” Lopez Obrador said on his visit to Monterrey in the northern state of Nuevo Leon.
After signing the Tax Incentive Decree for the Northern Border Region, Lopez Obrador said that this free zone will begin to operate starting Jan. 1 on a strip of land 25 kilometers (15 miles) wide along 3,180 kilometers of the US border.
All through this strip, the government is reducing income taxes from 30 percent to 20 percent and cutting the value-added tax from 16 percent to 8 percent, while boosting the minimum wage by 100 percent to 176 pesos ($8.80) and is making fuel prices the same as in the United States.
“It’s going to be the biggest free zone in the world,” President Lopez Obrador said, adding that this project will inevitably reduce migration.
He said the plan is to develop areas from south to north so Mexicans can stay in their native lands because they have no need to emigrate. “Migration should be a choice, not forced,” he said.
As part of this plan, the Mexican president noted that his government has begun to launch projects like planting a million hectares (2 million acres) of fruit trees and timberland, which will create some 400,000 jobs in the southeastern part of the country.
In that region, the Maya Train will be built with 1,500 kilometers of tracks, for the development of five southeastern states, which in turn implies a need for many more workers.
Also in the works will be construction of the Dos Bocas refinery in Tabasco state and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec railroad in the states of Oaxaca and Veracruz, which will connect the Pacific Coast with the Gulf of Mexico and give the country an alternative to the Panama Canal, the president said.