World Markets

Slim expects Mexican growth to be 'much better' in 2015

Billionaire Carlos Slim speaks during an event announcing an alliance between his philanthropic foundation and the World Wildlife Fund in Mexico City, Mexico.
Susana Gonzalez | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Carlos Slim, Latin America's richest man, said he thinks Mexico's economy will start to grow at a faster pace next year after overcoming a sluggish past couple of years.

The Mexican economy grew by just over 1 percent last year, and the government in May cut its forecast for 2014 to 2.7 percent. Interest rates are now at a record low of 3 percent.

"Last year (growth) was low, I think that this year it will be relatively low too, but I think next year will be much better,'' Slim told Reuters in an interview at his office in Mexico City on Thursday. "I hope that next year we will set the pace for growth for the next four years.''

Mexico's economy, Latin America's second biggest, barely expanded in the first quarter as a harsh winter dragged on growth in the United States, its top trading partner. At home, tax increases crimped domestic demand.

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The 74-year-old said part of the problem in Mexico was a lack of investment in key sectors of the economy: among them energy, education, infrastructure and roads.

Still, Slim, whose commercial empire spans banking, mining, telecoms and retail, said he was optimistic about the economic prospects for Mexico and the rest of Latin America.

Mexico's gross domestic product per capita was about $10,600 in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund, compared with $15,800 in Chile, $11,300 in Brazil and $8,100 in Colombia.

Slim saw better days ahead for Mexico.

"When a country breaks the $14,000, $15,000 per capita barrier, it's hard for it to go back to underdevelopment again,'' he said. "I think we're very close.''

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—By Reuters