Mexican government hires FTI Consulting to support NAFTA negotiations

15 November 2017

The government of Mexico has brought on FTI Consulting for strategic communications and public affairs services as the country enters re-negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

American President Donald Trump was elected on promises of tighter borders – making the movement of labour more difficult – along with import tariffs to dissuade US manufacturers from investing in foreign-made parts. While such promises are yet to materialise a year on from Trump’s shock election victory, the economic stability of G7 countries, including the US and Canada, has long been said to be threatened by the protectionist rhetoric of the 45th US President.

Having previously pulled the United States out of the international Paris Climate Agreement, President Trump has now turned his attentions to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Trump has repeatedly said the free trade agreement between the US, Mexico, and Canada, which came into effect in 1994, is bad for the US. The President has also taken to the social media soapbox of Twitter to launch multiple attacks on what he terms the “worst trade deal ever made,” and has threatened to instruct his administration to pull out of the covenant, as a further part of his protectionist agenda.

Mexican government hires FTI Consulting to support NAFTA negotiations

The three-nation pact is presently in a period of renegotiation, as of last month. However, while talks for renegotiating the agreement began on October 11th, they were delayed after Canada and Mexico united to block proposals from the Trump administration. The tumultuous negotiations come at a key point in the Trump Presidency as the White House incumbent attempts to recover from falling polling numbers. Officials plan to reconvene in Mexico on November 17th to resume negotiations, which are expected to stretch into the beginning of 2018.

As the Mexican government under President Enrique Peña Nieto prepares for what will undoubtedly be a combative few months of talks, the administration has hired FTI Consulting for strategic communications and public affairs services during the NAFTA re-negotiations. FTI has experience working with clients amid geo-political and cross-border economic issues as one of the world’s largest strategic communications and public affairs consultancies, boasting a strong presence in Brussels, the political hub of the EU. As a result, the firm is currently offering numerous clients communications strategy work relating to the navigation of Brexit.

The contract with the Mexican government, which began on October 24th, is currently scheduled to run until November 31st,. However, this can be extended until whenever NAFTA negotiations conclude, according to documents filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). According to the filing, the 18 FTI staffers registered on the FARA database for the contract will work directly with the Mexican Secretariat of the Economy and Juan Carlos Baker Pineda, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade. The work will include strategy meetings, press releases, speeches, and media relations on behalf of Mexico.

While FTI has not commented on the contract, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has defended NAFTA and called for a stronger trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States.


How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.