On 28 November, Newland Chase’s Enrique Arellano, Managing Director for Mexico, and Daniela Rojas Islas, Immigration Manager, presented their webinar Major in Mexico: Corporate Immigration, NAFTA, USMCA – where they discussed the opportunities for international business operations in Mexico with an emphasis on the corporate immigration system for employing foreign nationals in the country. In this live interactive session, they covered the current status of the NAFTA/USMCA implementation, expected changes to come as the new USMCA replaces NAFTA, potential changes under the new Mexican President Obrador, and other recent and expected changes to Mexican immigration policy.
Coming up on 12 December, Enrique will also present in Newland Chase’s Kickstart 2019: 3 Global Immigration Updates You Need to Know – a live, interactive webinar where he’ll further update attendees on the latest USMCA/NAFTA news – joining Managing Director for the UK, Tony Butterworth, speaking on Brexit, and Canada Immigration Director, Heidi Stephens, speaking on Canada’s new DUI/DWI law. It’s a must for HR and mobility managers looking for a successful 2019. (Register here.)
Global Legal Analyst, Kent O’Neil, recently got a chance to catch up with Enrique Arellano at his office in Mexico City as he prepared for the webinars. They chatted on the business climate in Mexico, potential changes under USMCA and AMLO, and Enrique’s 30-year career in the global mobility industry.
Kent: “Great timing for these webinars, Enrique. With the signing of the USMCA on November 25, with a new Mexican President on December 1, there’s a lot happening in Mexico right now.”
Enrique: “Yes there is. With the new USMCA… which is a lot like NAFTA… there are some minor changes. With President Obrador only recently taking office, it is still early. In both instances, most companies in Mexico are taking a wait and see approach. We definitely need time to see what the real impacts on the business climate will be. Even the USMCA could still change as it goes through the ratification process in the three countries. I don’t see major changes in supply chains anytime soon, but time will tell.”
Kent: “Any particular industries in Mexico to watch to see if USMCA eventually changes the business climate?”
Enrique: “The most directly impacted industry is obviously going to be the automotive industry. It will be interesting to see how it responds to some of the new rules on worker wages and content and how much those increase the costs of cars exported to the U.S.”
Kent: “I followed the Presidential election as much as I could in the media… but to be honest, I still don’t have a clue how much the new President Obrador might or might not be a change in the economy and business climate. Any clearer picture from your side of the border?”
Enrique: “Unfortunately, not much clearer. In the short-term, there will be the normal delays in some departments as personnel change. AMLO campaigned as pro-worker and anti-corruption. But any changes there will be slower and more long-term. One area where we might see more immediate changes is in government supported infrastructure projects. The only thing that is clear is that Mexico will continue to be closely tied economically to the U.S… and if anything, those ties are likely to only strengthen under USMCA and Obrador.”
Kent: “I’d agree with that. The economic ties and integration that have grown under NAFTA would be hard to reverse even with the relatively minor changes in the USMCA and other potential policy changes. I know you and Daniela will be covering Trade National (TN) visas in the webinar, so I won’t press you for details on those. But generally… anything in the new USMCA that you feel will change things for corporate or employment-based immigration between the U.S. and Mexico?
Enrique: “Not significantly...
"The labour mobility provisions of the USMCA are almost identical to those provisions under NAFTA. So the current NAFTA-based rules will continue with only minor changes when USMCA is finally ratified. Any changes in immigration from the Mexico side are likely to be just administrative and process based. There has already been some talk about restructuring departments, which would change procedures; but the substance of the immigration policy is not likely to change much.”
Enrique’s insights into the business climate in Mexico – and corporate immigration specifically – come from 40+ years as a lawyer working with both Mexican businesses and multinational companies operating in Mexico. Fresh out of law school in 1976, he founded his own law firm specialising in corporate immigration. That law firm grew through the years into one of Mexico’s premier corporate immigration law firms, Enrique Arellano Rincón Abogados, now part of Newland Chase.
Kent: “How does a kid right out of law school start his own law firm that grows into one of the most successful firms in Mexico?”
Enrique: “I had already decided I wanted to do corporate immigration – helping companies operate their business in Mexico. Back then, it wasn’t as much of a high-quality specialty. International companies had difficulty finding good Mexican immigration lawyers. My dream was to be the number one corporate immigration lawyer in Mexico. While in school, I was working in the HR department for a major international bank. So when I graduated, I went to them and said ‘I want to be your immigration lawyer’. They already knew I was the hardest worker in their HR department, so they said ‘yes’. And 40 years later… they are still my client. Other companies would hear of the good work I was doing for them, and it just grew.”
Kent: “I also see on your profile that you do a lot of speaking to professional and industry groups, served on several immigration policy commissions, chaired the immigration and nationality law committee of the International Bar Association… do you ever take a day off?
Enrique: “Honestly, I love what I do. But I have gotten better at taking time off to spend time with my wife and our daughter. I love to travel. I walk one hour each day. Play some golf.”
Kent: “I heard a rumour that you married your teacher. Any truth to it?”
Enrique: (laughing) “Guilty. I went to the University of Minnesota to study and improve my English. Liz was my English teacher. I’m not sure if my English improved, but I brought back a wife with me to Mexico.”
Kent: “Great story! I can relate; I met my wife while abroad too. But more importantly, you mentioned golf… What’s your handicap?”
Enrique: “Around 10 to 12 right now.”
Kent: “That definitely qualifies as ‘playing some golf’. So if this whole corporate immigration gig hadn’t panned out… is that what you would have done for a career, golf pro?”
Enrique: “I’m glad it did. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Looking back, it was my dream… not just being the best at something… but the relationships with clients who are now good friends for decades… seeing my firm grow… seeing my colleagues grow professionally… teaching, mentoring. I truly wouldn’t change a thing.”
Register now for Newland Chase’s Kickstart 2019: 3 Global Immigration Updates You Need to Know.
If you missed Enrique Arellano and Daniela Rojas Islas in their webinar Major in Mexico: Corporate Immigration, NAFTA, USMCA last week – you can watch the on-demand recording here.