Mexico's Pena Nieto Backs Stronger Trade Ties With Asia

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico must look to increase its trade with Asia, especially if the U.S. economy does not improve, President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto was quoted as saying on Monday.

In an interview with Mexican newspaper El Financiero, Pena Nieto said Latin America's second biggest economy needed to reduce its dependence on the United States, where nearly 80 percent of Mexico's exports are sent.

"We have to take advantage of the United States' geographical proximity, but if the economic situation there does not improve, Mexico is obliged to look for other markets to strengthen growth," Pena Nieto said.

"Asia, it's a region with a lot of consumers and where the spending power of the market has grown and improved. This is an opportunity for the Mexican presence."

China is Mexico's third-biggest export market after the United States and Canada. The balance of trade between China and Mexico is heavily tilted in favor of the Asian giant, which provides Mexico with roughly 15 percent of its imports.

Pena Nieto, a member of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is due to take office on December 1.

His July 1 election victory has been challenged by the runner-up, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has accused the PRI of buying votes and laundering money in order to win.

The federal electoral tribunal is due to rule on Lopez Obrador's challenge by early September. Political experts do not expect the election results to be overturned.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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