Spain’s King Juan Carlos on Monday presented the Order of Isabella the Catholic to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and the Great Cross of Isabella the Catholic to first lady Angelica Rivero at a ceremony in Madrid.
King Juan Carlos, accompanied by Queen Sofia, Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia, then hosted the Mexican leader and his wife at a luncheon at the Zarzuela Palace, the monarch’s official residence.
Peña Nieto will be the last visiting foreign leader to be hosted by King Juan Carlos, who announced last week he was abdicating in favor of his son Felipe.
The 46-year-old crown prince is expected to be proclaimed Felipe VI of Spain on June 19, replacing his father as head of state.
Peña Nieto, who began his official visit to Spain on Monday, said during a seminar earlier in the day sponsored by media giant Grupo Prisa that Mexico was a reliable country to invest in.
High foreign investment is expected in the next few years in Mexico’s energy, health and communications industries, the 47-year-old president said.
Peña Nieto touted the structural reforms being implemented by his administration to spur Mexico’s economic development.
The energy industry overhaul, which allows the government to retain ownership of petroleum resources while promoting private investment in the sector, is the most “emblematic” of the reforms, Peña Nieto, a former governor of Mexico state who was inaugurated as president on Dec. 1, 2012, said.
Peña Nieto, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, told Spanish business leaders that his labor market reforms would create more opportunities for women and young people, while the financial industry revamp would allow Mexico’s “robust” banking system to expand lending to small and mid-sized businesses.
Mexico has free trade agreements with 45 countries, allowing its products to reach more than 1.1 billion consumers, Peña Nieto said.
The Mexican leader also commented on relations with Spain, telling seminar participants that the Iberian nation was a key ally of Mexico.