Tokyo will extend up to 24.13 billion yen in yen loans to Mexico for a water supply and sewage project to help the Latin American country’s efforts to protect the environment, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto told Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo on Mar. 12, according to Foreign Ministry officials.

The project in Guadalajara will be completed in seven years at a total cost of about 40 billion yen, the officials said. Hashimoto also told Zedillo that the Export-Import Bank of Japan will guarantee a $250 million loan by a Japanese financial institution for a subway project in Mexico City, the officials said.

Zedillo responded that Japan’s economic cooperation will help further strengthen bilateral relations, according to the officials. The Mexican president also asked for Japan’s cooperation in an oil development project, they said.

In a speech to the Diet, Zedillo said economic relations between Mexico and Japan have been expanding but the two countries should explore more potential economic opportunities. “Last year, the amount of trade between Mexico and Japan exceeded $5.5 billion,” Zedillo said. “But the people of Mexico believe that the potential of the bilateral economic relationship is far bigger.”

Japan can increase its access to North America through Mexico, which is a member of the North American Free Trade agreement, Zedillo said. “At the same time, Mexico has trade agreements with other Latin American countries and is serving as a gate to an area with potential,” said Zedillo. He said Mexico is a country with huge potential on a continent where many opportunities exist.

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