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Column 111416 Wall

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trump's U.S. Election Win – What Does This Mean for Mexico?

By Allan Wall

Donald J. Trump won the U.S. presidential election on November 8th.

How will a Trump presidency affect Mexico? 

Will it be as bad as has been painted in the Mexican media, where hysterical denunciations of Donald Trump have been the norm since June of 2015, when he entered the race?

I don’t think a Trump presidency will be a disaster for Mexico.  In fact, there are things that the Mexican government can do to work together constructively with Trump. 

After all, diplomacy is not about “liking people,” but about finding common interests between nations.  And there is plenty there to work with between the U.S. and Mexico.   

Donald Trump’s candidacy caught a lot of people, not least Americans, by surprise.  There were plenty of confident predictions that Trump would not get the Republican nomination, and later that he would lose the election. 

Within the Republican Party, Trump’s insurgent campaign ruffled a lot of feathers and was opposed by the party elite.  But to no avail.

The American mainstream media was, for the most part, biased against the Trump candidacy.  On the other hand, media outlets couldn’t keep from reporting on the candidate.  Journalists might oppose Trump, but they couldn’t stop the coverage. 

In Mexico, Trump was lambasted by politicians, the media and entertainment personalities.  The Mexican government mounted a naturalization campaign to get Mexicans in the U.S. naturalized as American citizens so they could vote against Trump.

In the end, Donald Trump won anyway.  

In Mexico, the “Trump Effect” was when the peso’s ups and downs were correlated with Trump’s rise or fall in the polls.  This is about an individual who, remember, is not even a public official yet.  So, if the campaign statements of a candidate can really cause the peso to take a dive, then it was not too strong to begin with. 

Maybe the ongoing anti-Trump hysteria itself worked to weaken the peso.  If your political and media elite are going on and on about how bad a Trump presidency would be for Mexico, then maybe the hysteria itself is weakening confidence in the peso. 

Donald Trump is set to take office on January 20, 2017, and after Trump takes office the Mexican government must deal with him.

On immigration, the divide between Trump’s proposals and what Mexico wants is not surprising. For decades the Mexican government has used emigration as part of its economic program.  Getting more Mexicans out of Mexico helped the government by taking off a lot of pressure.

Mexicans in the United States aren’t using resources in Mexico and for the most part aren’t opposing the government politically. And they’re sending money back.   Income from remittances is now Mexico’s biggest income source, even surpassing oil revenues which have been hurt by low oil prices.

So, of course a proposal to put a barrier on the U.S.-Mexican border is not going to go over well in Mexico, and that’s an understatement.  Plus, it doesn’t matter what sort of measures are proposed to secure the U.S. border, they are criticized in Mexico as being too harsh.

Nowadays, the biggest illegal immigration problem is not Mexican illegal immigration in the U.S., but Central American illegal immigration in the U.S. and in Mexico.  Indeed, they go through Mexico before ever making it into the U.S.

So if the U.S. does get control of its side of the U.S.-Mexican border, Mexico may have to take more effective measures on its southeastern borders with Guatemala and Belize. Otherwise, many Central American migrants could wind up being stuck in Mexico, and that’s not what the Mexican government wants.

On the matter of trade, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) has been strongly criticized by Donald Trump, who wants to renegotiate it. 

That may be easier said than done.  It would have to be renegotiated by all three countries, by the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and approved in each country’s legislature.  That could open a big can of worms. 

On the other hand, the Mexican government could consider working with Trump to fight off low-wage competition from China and other Asian countries.  After all, this is a threat to Mexico as well as to the United States.   

Who knows what sorts of deals a President Trump might make with Mexico.  After all, didn’t Trump write a book called The Art of the Deal?  Savvy Mexican officials and diplomats might keep that in mind.

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info.

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