The Biophysical Perspective of a Middle Income Economy: Material Flows in Mexico
In this paper we analyse natural resource use dynamics in the Mexican economy during the last three decades. Despite low and uneven economic growth, the extraction and use of materials in the Mexican economy has continuously increased over the last 30 years. During this time, population growth, rather than economic growth, has been the main driving force for biophysical growth. In addition, a fundamental change in the primary sectors, in manufacturing as well as in household consumption, has taken place and is reflected in an increasing importance of fossil fuel and construction materials use. Mexico’s economy is strongly influenced by international trade since the country has opened up for competition on international markets. In the 1970s, Mexico’s main export was primary resources. This has changed and manufactured goods now have much greater importance due to a boom in assembling industries. Mexico, unlike other Latin American countries, has achieved a diversification of production moving towards technology intensive products and now has a better mix in its export portfolio. However, crude oil exports still represent the single most important export commodity. Mexico’s material consumption is still well bellow the OECD average but is growing fast and the current resource use patterns may well present serious social and environmental problems for the medium and long term sustainability of Mexico’s economy and communities. Information on natural resource use and resource productivity could provide valuable information to guide economic policy planning for Mexico’s future.
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