OECD Territorial Reviews: Yucatan, Mexico 2007

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The Mexican state of Yucatán, with its strategically important location near the United States, Central America and the Caribbean, is one of the most dynamic regions in the OECD. Yucatán is also a land of contrasts. It is a lagging but growing region, offering a high quality of life and vast natural resources, yet suffering from problems of sustainability. Its tourism attractions are located in rural areas that do not benefit from them. It has both state and Peninsula medical services, but its health services coverage is uneven. Yucatan is a centre for higher education in the Peninsula, yet its graduates do not find jobs. It has a number of marginalised communities in fragmented administrative bodies, and although the Peninsular states share a common cultural heritage and attractiveness, their institutions do not co-operate.

Clearly, Yucatán is not taking full advantage of its many resources, and in fact, challenges in the region threaten to undermine local assets. Among these is the need to upgrade activities to higher value-added innovation and design processes, and to foster primary activities to reach international markets. While the state government has proposed programmes to spur formalisation of the informal economy, measures such as better regulation, cutting red tape and providing employment opportunities and access to formal credit could have a greater impact. The lack of a shared, coherent long-term vision is a fundamental challenge to improving regional competitiveness and social cohesion in Yucatán. The OECD’s recommendations can only be part of a larger strategy to develop a collective vision of the state’s future.

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What Policies for Regional Competitiveness and Social Cohesion?

Analysis of the current policy agenda for improving regional competitiveness and social cohesion in Yucatán must take into account the implications of recent political and economic transformations at both the national and state levels. Since the turn of the 21st century, both Mexico and Yucatán have experienced tremendous political and economic change. On the one hand, new forms of government, in Yucatán –and at the national level- have opened up new opportunities for more inclusive civic and political engagement. In addition, NAFTA and other free market policy reforms in Mexico and abroad have created unprecedented opportunities for some regions, while some others have lagged behind resulting in profoundly reconfigured economic landscapes, and concomitant livelihoods, throughout the country. On the other hand, due to political and economic change, policymakers at both state and national levels have devoted much of their energies in recent years to developing and implementing regulatory and institutional frameworks that were largely missing, poorly enforced, or improperly designed under previous administrations.


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