On Sunday, Nov. 13, Foreign Relations Secretary (SRE) Claudia Ruiz Massieu met with a group of businessmen in Puebla to try to calm their nerves about the results of last week’s U.S. presidential election and the prospect of Donald J. Trump as the next Leader of the Free World.
And while she did insist that it is important to defend the interests and rights of all Mexicans abroad, she made it clear that Trump is not the Big Bad Wolf and his presidency is not going to disrupt the binational commercial and economic relationship.
After having met with Mexico’s ambassador to Washington, Carlos Manuel Sada Solana, and 50 Mexican consuls to the United States the day before, Ruiz Massieu assured the trade forum attendees that, despite the U.S. president-elect’s anti-Mexican campaign rhetoric (which caused shockwaves throughout the Latino community there and stirred fears of reprisals here), business between the two countries will continue as usual and an economic Armageddon was not at hand for Mexico.
“The results of the U.S. election pose an opportunity for Mexico to replant the terms of our relationship with that country,” she said.
“For Mexico, this is a chance to build a new bilateral agenda of prosperity and competitiveness … There will no doubt be some changes, some adjustments, but the government of President [Enrique] Peña Nieto sees this start of a new chapter in our bilateral relations as a moment of considerable opportunities, if we know how to act together intelligently and strategically.”
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson, who also attended the XIV Business Summit in Puebla, echoed Ruiz Massieu’s sentiments, adding: “We have shared interests, and those shared interests should guide our actions and the relationship between our countries.”
Jacobson pointed out that in addition to being part of the same continent, Mexico and the United States have a common history based on the principles and values of democracy and mutual respect.
Moreover, both Ruiz Massieu and Jacobson said that, with the U.S. elections now behind us, the vicious and acerbic hyperbole that had dominated the campaign discourse would also be replaced by a more staid and conciliatory dialogue.
“The campaign is finally over and as of Jan. 20, a new government will take office in the United States,” Ruiz Massieu said.
“It is important to remember that the relationship between Mexico and the United States doesn’t begin and end with an election. Our two-way relationship is extensive and long-term. It is a mature relationship, a multifaceted relationship that is manifested daily on many levels. And it is an institutional relationship, defined by norms and bilateral — and sometimes trilateral — agreements, as well as by international law.”
Ruiz Massieu said that although a change in administration in the United States may lead to a revisiting of the terms of some accords, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), making slight adjustments to the 23-year-old treaty would also give Mexico an opportunity to reexamine and discuss its own interests and priorities regarding bilateral trade.
“We aren’t starting again at zero or trying to generate a relationship from scratch, and we need to keep that in mind in the face of considerable uncertainty following the U.S. election results,” she said.
“We must always remember that there are certainties that are the framework of our relationship and that Mexico has a very clear vision of the relationship we want with the United States, our biggest trade and strategic partner, our biggest neighbor, with whom we have been continually building a shared agenda focused on regional and global competitiveness.”
Ruiz Massieu and Jacobson are right.
Every day, more than $1.6 billion in goods and services cross the U.S.-Mexican border.
Accumulated U.S. investment in Mexico currently stands at more than $101 billion, and Mexican companies have likewise invested almost $33 billion into the United States, making it the 15th most important source of foreign direct investment for our northern neighbor.
Nearly 20 million Mexicans visit the United States each year to vacation, conduct business or attend universities.
In turn, over 25 million U.S. visitors travel to Mexico each year.
Academic exchange and joint research between the countries through the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Research and Innovation (Fobesii) is increasing innovation and competitiveness on both sides of the border, and the two countries are working together through a series of mechanisms to curbed organized crime activities and increase security through enhanced cross-border communications system.
The United States and Mexico are working together on global issues such as clean air and climate policies, as well as narcotics and human trafficking, arms smuggling and money laundering.
None of that is going to change.
It wouldn’t behoove Trump and his administration to penalize the U.S. economy (or the Mexican economy) by putting up trade or investment barriers.
The United States and Mexico need one another, and both Trump and Peña Nieto are aware of that fact.
On the CBS television news show “Sixty Minutes” Sunday, Nov. 13, Trump said he was softening his stance on building a wall along the Rio Grande border and would focus his new immigration policy on expelling or imprisoning only undocumented immigrants who had criminal records or were involved in illegal activities such as drug-dealing.
Trump is the new president-elect of the United States and, barring any radical and retroactive changes in the U.S. Constitution, he will take office on Jan. 20.
Fearmongering and predictions of doom are counterproductive to the long and healthy two-way friendship between Mexico and the United States.
Instead of looking for ways to destroy the bilateral relationship, both countries should be concentrating on ways to strengthen it.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at [email protected]