<!--:es-->Calderon pushes for investment in Mexico<!--:-->

Calderon pushes for investment in Mexico

DALLAS — Mexican President Felipe Calderon made an investment pitch Tuesday to business officials, saying his country has “solid economic fundamentals” and is dealing with transportation needs and crime.

And while Calderon has criticized U.S. immigration policy, he said U.S. investment in his country could ease the pressure for Mexicans to move _ legally or otherwise _ to the United States.

“The goal is not to see every year Mexican people trying to cross the border to the United States,” Calderon said. “Our goal is to create opportunities for our people in Mexico. That is absolutely possible.” Calderon spoke to about 25 Dallas-area business and civic leaders at a swank downtown hotel.

Calderon sat at the head of a U-shaped set of tables, with a group of Mexican officials to his right, and the Dallas contingent to his left. A slide on a screen at the foot of the room said, “Mexico: Open for Business.”

Introducing the president, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert called for more business and cultural ties between the United States and Mexico. He said trade would create more opportunities for Texas businesses and access to lower-priced goods for consumers. Leppert also praised Calderon for sending federal troops into Ciudad Juarez to combat drug-war violence in the border city that lies across the Rio Grande from El Paso. Robert Chereck, a regional president for Wells Fargo and Co., said he was impressed by Calderon’s presentation of policies aimed at improving transportation systems, energy production and debt reduction.

“They’re doing a great job,” Chereck said. He was also struck by a study by investment bank Goldman Sachs, which predicted that Mexico will be the fifth-largest economy in the world by 2050.

After Calderon spoke for about 15 minutes, reporters were asked to leave, and the meeting continued for a few more minutes. Participants said the closed session focused on trade and Mexico’s economic policies, and that immigration did not come up.

The event was sponsored by a Mexican government-run group called the Institute for Mexicans Abroad. It usually meets in Mexico City, but Leppert lobbied for a Dallas session.

Earlier Tuesday, Calderon met with President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in New Orleans in a show of unity on trade. They rejected the call of Democrats in Congress to scrap or renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which removed barriers to trade and investment between the three countries.

Calderon’s visit came against the backdrop of rising anti-trade rhetoric in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail.