Mexico central bank says export diversity needed to offset U.S. risks

November 23, 2016 2:18 PM EST

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's central bank on Wednesday said it may revise growth estimates if new U.S. policies have a negative effect on the Mexican economy, a risk that the bank's governor said reinforced the need for Mexico to diversify its exports.

In its quarterly inflation report, the central bank tweaked its 2016 growth forecast to between 1.8-2.3 percent compared to a previous estimation of 1.7-2.5 percent.

It cut its 2017 economic growth outlook to between 1.5-2.5 percent versus a previous 2.0-3.0 percent, and said it saw 2018 growth of 2.2-3.2 percent.

"Right now, this is a world rich in uncertainty," Banco de Mexico Governor Agustin Carstens said at a news conference in Mexico City, adding that he thought the current volatility in markets was a temporary phenomenon.

Carstens said the risks to the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship underlined the need for Mexico to diversify its exports, and the bank said its current economic projections were based on the current commercial relationship being unchanged.

However, the bank warned upcoming growth projections could be revised if U.S. policy toward Mexico changes. Mexican exports and foreign direct investment in the country could also potentially be affected by any U.S. shifts, it added.

Mexico's peso was sent to a record low following the surprise election of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8.

During his campaign, Trump threatened to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement and build a wall along the U.S border with Mexico.

Mexico chose not to intervene to prop up the peso after the election result, and instead waited until last week, when it hiked interest rates to their highest in over seven years.

Carstens said it was natural for the peso to weaken due to the prospect that there could be a structural change in the U.S.-Mexican relationship. He said the rate hike last week had helped the currency stabilize and noted there had not been "big" outflows from Mexico.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mexico's economy posted its fastest quarterly growth in more than two years, and the government stuck to its previous growth outlook, insisting there was no tangible threat yet from President-elect Trump.

(Reporting by Michael O'Boyle and Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)



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