Mexico acknowledged it still has some catching up to do in economic relations with China, as the two countries took new steps forward in trade negotiations.
Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong (曾慶紅) hailed Mexico as a partner, not a competitor, during a visit to Mexico City on Monday to sign new accords on tourism, agricultural trade and investment.
But Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez also acknowledged that "there's still a lot left to do here" as he described intensive efforts to increase cooperation with China.
While Mexico is China's second-largest trading partner in Latin America, it remains at a disadvantage: China exports more than twice what it receives from Mexico. The trade imbalance has prompted concerns among Mexican industries about inexpensive Chinese goods and the impact of lower wage jobs in Asia on Mexico's assembly-for-export factories.
Zeng met privately with Mexican President Vicente Fox on Monday and finalized an agreement that Mexican officials hope will bring Chinese tourist groups to visit here.
The Chinese vice president's next stop in Mexico will be in the Caribbean resort of Cancun, where he is scheduled to talk with Quintana Roo state Governor Joaquin Hendricks.
Zeng's three-day visit to Mexico is the first leg of a five-nation trip to Latin America and the Caribbean that also includes stops in Peru, Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica, the latter being where the vice president is invited to a Feb. 2 forum on trade between China and the Caribbean.
Accords signed with Mexico on Monday addressed criminal justice issues, maritime transportation, and reciprocal lending by the Export and Import Bank of China and Mexico's export development bank, Bancomext. Agricultural protocols were signed to promote the export of Mexican avocados and Chinese apples.
While in Mexican City, Zeng thanked Mexican senators for not meeting with the Dalai Lama when the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader visited Mexico in October.