Mexican economy should be growing 5 percent by 2016 - Videgaray

MEXICO CITY Thu Jan 9, 2014 10:40am EST

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MEXICO CITY Jan 9 (Reuters) - Mexico's economy should grow by more than 5 percent per year in the second half of President Enrique Pena Nieto's 2012-2018 administration thanks to economic reforms, Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said on Thursday.

In 2013, Congress passed a series of measures aimed at lifting Mexican growth, which has lagged that of regional peers for years. The reforms stretched from the telecoms sector and tax changes to ending the country's 75-year-old oil monopoly.

"We expect that once these reforms are applied we'll get to the second part of President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration growing consistently above five percent," Videgaray told Mexican broadcaster Televisa in a wide-ranging interview.

Pena Nieto, 47, took office in December 2012 and is due to serve a single six-year term. The mid-point is December 2015.

The government has forecast growth of nearly four percent in 2014 after a sharp economic slowdown last year. Final data for 2013 have yet to be published, but analysts' forecasts suggest Latin America's no. 2 economy expanded about 1.3 percent.

Congress must still pass so-called secondary laws to implement the energy reform and the sweeping shake-up of the telecoms sector, which among other things aims to curb the power of billionaire Carlos Slim's telephone giant America Movil .

Implementing the reforms is the "greatest challenge" now facing Mexico, central bank governor Agustin Carstens told newspaper El Financiero in an interview published on Thursday.

Videgaray was confident that consumers and small and medium-sized businesses would start to feel the benefits of the telecoms reform from 2015 in the form of lower mobile phone costs. "Without doubt, due to competition," he said.

Turning to the energy reform, the finance minister said Mexico needed to find $20 billion to $30 billion in additional investment per annum for the energy sector.

"We hope it'll come with the energy reform," he said.

Crude output in Mexico has fallen by more than a quarter since hitting a peak of 3.4 million barrels per day in 2004. (Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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