KU Latin America leadership lecture series: “Mexico in transformation”
Kiwoong Um talked about the prospect of the upcoming Mexican presidential election, the possibility of NAFTA renegotiation, and Mexican culture in general.
The seventh lecture as part of KU Latin America Leadership Lecture Series, which was designed to cultivate experts in Latin American countries, was held on October 19th at 5:30 p.m. in the Dongwon Global Leaders’ Lounge of the Dongwon Global Leadership Hall. Having started this year, the Korea University Global Leadership Development Center organized this monthly series as a follow-up to the KU Latin America Program, inviting renowned experts in Latin America as guest lecturers.
The guest lecturer of this day was Kiwoong Um, a prominent lawyer in Mexico and an alumnus of Korea University (Political Science, ’93). After graduating from Korea University, he moved to Mexico and obtained a lawyer’s license there. Now he is the head of Mundus Apertus, a law firm headquartered in Mexico. He is also the first Korean-Spanish interpreter/translator to be certified by the Federal Government of Mexico. The topic of the lecture was “Mexico in Transformation.” He gave a talk on the outcome of the upcoming Mexican presidential election, the possibility of NAFTA renegotiation, and Mexican culture in general.
He led off the lecture by talking about how he became a lawyer in Mexico and the head of a Mexican law firm. Then he moved on to the topic of the Mexican presidential election to be held in July 2018. Since most of the Mexican public officials are appointed rather than elected, the presidential elections every six years have a major impact on both the political and economic landscape of the country. Um said that authoritarian Mexican politics is represented by centralism and the six-year single presidential term. “Now, Mexican civil society is gaining strength and awareness of political issues is growing among citizens, making it increasingly difficult for the long-time ruling party to remain in power,” he explained.
Next, he talked about the prospect of NAFTA renegotiation. “Traditionally, Mexican trade has been heavily relying on revenues generated from exporting natural resources and from maquiladoras (a maquiladora is a factory in Mexico run by a foreign company and exporting its products to the country of that company), and Mexico’s major trade partner has been the U.S. But the country is now diversifying its export and import markets and is making efforts to integrate Latin American economies, in order to reduce the U.S. influence on its economy,” Um said. Also, regarding the NAFTA negotiation, which broke off four times and is scheduled to be resumed next month, he pointed out that rules of origin in the auto sector, the 5-year sunset clause, tariff issues, digital trade, and the movement of workers between countries are important points to note.
He wrapped up the lecture by comparing the corporate culture in Mexico to that in South Korea. “The Korean authoritarian corporate culture stemmed from a Confucianism and military culture, whereas the Mexican authoritarian corporate culture can be characterized by tsarism, corporatism, and centralism. Although the origins of their authoritarian culture are different, they have many common attributes,” said Um. Lastly, he explained some characteristics that he found common among the Mexican people.