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Mexico Gov't Still Eyeing 5 pct Growth in 2018

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Puerto Vallarta, Jal.- Mexican Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray said the government still expects a series of recent economic reforms will lead to growth of 5 percent by the end of President Enrique Peña Nieto's six-year term in 2018.

"I don't have the slightest doubt that Mexico will have sustainable average growth rates in that range," Videgaray said in an interview published Monday by El Universal newspaper.

Though acknowledging that growth conditions depend on external and cyclical factors, the minister said the "potential" to be unleashed by structural overhauls in the energy, telecommunications, labor and financial sectors will help fuel economic expansion.

Provided that the overhauls are implemented "in a thorough and timely manner," the growth forecasts will be met, according to Videgaray.

He also stressed the importance of an annual document that provides an overview of Mexico's economic picture and will serve as a guide for the country's economic policy in 2016.

That panorama includes a "high degree of uncertainty" in global markets, capital flows triggered by monetary policy, particularly in the United States, and sharply lower oil prices, which the minister said earlier this month will put a strain on Mexico's public finances next year.

Despite the challenges, the minister said the 2016 budget will not include cuts in areas such as pensions, although funding for government programs and ministries will come under review.

Regarding expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this year, Videgaray said if that happens it will be up to Mexico's central bank to make an independent decision on whether to follow suit and raise its benchmark rate from its record-low level.

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