Discussion leader: Gary Banks

President Trump and Mexican leaders have been disagreeing since the first moments of Trump’s presidential campaign, when Trump accused Mexico of using the United States as a dumping ground for criminals; he went on to campaign on building a wall, imposing a tariff, and revising NAFTA.

But beneath the heated rhetoric is a complex and largely beneficial relationship. Mexico is the United States’ third-largest trading partner, with $531 billion in two-way trade in 2015. More than 35 million Americans have Mexican roots. While U.S. companies’ investments in Mexico get more attention, Mexican companies employ more than 123,000 people in the U.S.

Our discussion will examine this issue from several vantages. What makes this interesting, and challenging, is the fact that every action will have a reaction and, in turn, a counter reaction. As in any complex adaptive system, you can’t do just one thing. There is plenty of news from a US perspective. Here, we’ll also explore how Mexico and its people see the relationship and what actions and reactions they may take.

Summit in Mexico from the Yale School of Management.

Mexico’s Revenge
By antagonizing the U.S.’s neighbor to the south, Donald Trump has made the classic bully’s error: He has underestimated his victim. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/05/mexicos-revenge/521451/

Nafta has made Mexico a better place, writes @MaryAnastasiaOG from Harris

Here is an example of how difficult trade negotiation are. One industry, in this case sugar growers in Florida want to restrict imports from Mexico. (The Florida sugar industry in known for sleazy politics and environmental damage.) But the sugar refining industry wants inexpensive raw sugar. But wait! The Iowa corn farmers want to sell high fructose corn syrup to Mexico and that market might be jeopardized. Now the sugar buyers, such as candy makers threaten to move their manufacturing off shore to get access to raw materials. Not simple – everything is connected. Like ecology, you can’t do just one thing. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/04/world/americas/mexico-nafta-north-american-free-trade-agreement-sugar-subsidies.html?ref=business&_r=0

Not mentioned is both corn and sugar cane can make ethanol. Sugar cane as biomass makes more sense as the stalks are waste, corn is a crop. Brazil is a leader in cane ethanol but there is an import duty to the US to protect domestic growers. But there is no import duty on oil –
even from unsavory countries. The impoverished Caribbean could grow sugar cane and the have refineries but they are blocked.

George Friedman, Stratfor, has some provocative perspectives. Namely, the US-Mexico relationship goes back to their defeat in the Mexican-American war. That the US Southwest is occupied Mexican territory. And with the rapid growth of the Latino population in those states soon to determine their politics,the area could become some sort of semi-autonomous zone between the two countries. This is outlined in his book “The Next 100 years”.

How Mexico’s President Laid the Foundation for a Wall
Enrique Peña Nieto helped put Trump in the White House. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/01/trumps-accomplice-in-mexico/514430/

Nearly 5 Million U.S. Jobs Depend on Trade With Mexico
Arguments that policies such as NAFTA have killed American manufacturing jobs often ignore the many other American jobs that such deals create and support. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/12/mexico-nafta-trade/510008/

America Is Already Paying for the Wall With Mexico
How Trump made an enemy. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/01/america-is-already-paying-for-the-wall-with-mexico/514658/

Now that you have done your reading, there is a test of how much you know about Mexico courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2012/0701/How-much-do-you-know-about-Mexico-Take-our-quiz/What-does-the-5th-of-May-commemorate-in-Mexico How did you do?