Mexico Pursuing EU Deal to Locally Produce Vaccines, Meds

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico could soon close a contract for European pharmaceutical companies to produce vaccines and medicines in Mexico, a senior official told Reuters, as the Latin American country aims to be better prepared for future health crises.

Mexico ranks fifth globally in COVID-19 deaths and faced significant delays obtaining vaccines against the highly-contagious virus.

“We don’t want the next pandemic, which could be tomorrow or a 100 years from now, to catch us off guard,” said Iker Jimenez, head of global investment at Mexico’s foreign ministry.

Jimenez said in an interview late on Monday that the deal with the European Commission could be finalized in November or December, and would aim to convert Mexico into a regional hub for producing and packaging selected vaccines and medicines.

While Jimenez said he could not reveal the companies involved, Europe is home to pharmaceutical giants including AstraZeneca, Bayer and Janssen, owned by Johnson & Johnson.

In June, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stressed the bloc’s desire to promote vaccine and medicine production in Latin America by investing more in the region.

Jimenez, whose office is also tasked with promoting electric vehicles in Mexico, added he is confident Mexico can boost electric car sales from 5% currently to 50% by 2030.

Mexico is Latin America’s top automaker, and the sector is key driver of the country’s industrial output and high-value exports.

Jimenez’s team has invited electric car producers like Tesla to set up shop in the country, and ministry officials met last month with Uber executives to discuss migrating drivers to zero emission vehicles.

In a sign of things to come, Jimenez said Canadian transport company BRP last week announced plans to build a first-of-its-kind $65 million plant in Queretaro state to manufacture electric motorcycles and batteries for electric vehicles.

(Reporting by Diego Ore; Editing by Josie Kao)

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