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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 27, 1962

TASS CORRESPONDENT IN MEXICO A. A. PAVLENKO, MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION WITH ALFREDO PERERA MENA

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    Perera Mena, editor at a magazine published by the Mexican State National Bank for External Trade, discusses Mexico's economic dependence on the United States and possibilities for increasing trade with the Soviet Union.
    "TASS Correspondent in Mexico A. A. Pavlenko, Memorandum of Conversation with Alfredo Perera Mena," June 27, 1962, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Russian State Archive of the Economy, f. 365, op. 2, d. 340, ll. 88-90. Obtained and translated for CWIHP by Vanni Pettina. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/122361
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June 27, 1962
Our Ref. 374

THE EMBASSY OF THE USSR IN MEXICO
From the diary of A. A. Pavlenko           

MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION

with Alfredo Perera Mena, head of the editorial department of “Comercio Exterior” magazine

         June 1, 1962

Today I had a conversation at the TASS correspondent office with Alfredo Perera Mena, the head of the editorial department of “Comercio Exterior” magazine (organ of the State National Bank for External Trade). The conversation concerned the external economic relations of Mexico.

In the beginning of the conversation Perera Mena mentioned that the US accounted for 70 to 80 percent of Mexico’s foreign trade turnover (many trade transactions were performed through the medium of the US’s foreign trade companies, though trade was actually carried on with other countries). He noted that the ruling circles of Mexico strived for weakening that dependence on the US. For that purpose, Mexico participated in the Latin American free trade zone and broadened trade with Western European (particularly, Western German) companies. A large volume of purchases in Mexico was performed by Japan.

A short time ago the government established posts of trade advisers at the embassies; the responsibilities of the latter included studying the possibilities for broadening trade with the corresponding countries.

As for the question about the reasons that hindered broadening trade between Mexico and the USSR, Perera answered it was the US. Foreign trade companies of the US sold their goods to Mexico on credit, with paying by installments, which put Mexico in a dependent position; the credit could be stopped at any moment. Financial dependence had an impact too, as Mexico resorted to loans from the US Treasury and American banks to support the value of the peso.

Perera noted that the direction of Mexico’s foreign trade was determined by three main agencies: the Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Department of Compensation Transactions of the National Bank for Foreign Trade. Much depended also on the character of the information and on the recommendations of the trade advisers at the embassies of Mexico abroad.

According to Perera, conclusion of a large trade transaction between Mexico and the USSR would trigger a deeply malevolent reaction from the US, and could harm the already existing Soviet-Mexican trade relations. Therefore, the path of gradual trade volume increase ought to be followed.

Perera gave an affirmative answer to the question whether conclusion of a trade agreement between Mexico and the USSR was possible. Nevertheless, as he pointed out, goods that could compete with American ones in Mexico’s market, must not appear on the goods list attached to the agreement.

Perera said that about 40 percent of Mexico’s foreign trade (export and import) was accounted for by government-owned enterprises (only the “Petroleos Mexicanos” government-owned oil company purchased goods to the amount of $320 mln from abroad in 1961). He was, however, unable to answer the question why government-owned enterprises did not want to handle trade with socialist countries.

As for private companies, the most probable counterparties of socialist countries could be the entrepreneurs belonging to “CONASINTRA“ (“The National Confederation of Chambers of the Processing Industry”) and the “Association of Importers and Exporters of Mexico” (the latter play the part of mediators between the buyer and the seller, and for the most part proceed from merely commercial considerations).

Soviet goods were not known here in Mexico, Perera continued. Intensive advertising was required for large numbers buyers to get acquainted with these goods.

(In the course of the conversation it was agreed that in the future Perera would receive the “Soviet Export” magazine in English for the “Comercio Exterior” magazine in order to obtain information about the USSR’s foreign trade).

Perera further said that during Kennedy’s forthcoming visit to Mexico in the end of June the US President would suggest reducing prices for the sugar purchased in Mexico (at the present time the US purchases sugar from Mexico at higher than global prices). Kennedy would demand from the government of Mexico to break off diplomatic relations with Cuba as payment for the concession in this question.

Perera stated that Mexico lost about $40 mln annually because of nonequivalent trade exchange with the US.

Yu. A. Domrachev, engineer of the trade adviser’s department of the USSR’s embassy in Mexico, participated in the conversation.

TASS CORRESPONDENT

IN MEXICO

<signature> A. PAVLENKO

Printed: 4 copies/AS
  1. to OSLA
  2. to MFT
  3. to SCFER
  4. to the file

05.06.1962

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