The News
Wednesday 12 of June 2024

Where Are You, Ronald Reagan?

photo: AP
photo: AP
It was Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, both pedigreed Republicans, who conceived including Mexico into a free-trade-agreement

Once again United States President Donald Trump Tuesday in a speech in Arizona threatened to cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations if they don’t suit his fancy.

Also, to the chants of his Arizona supporters of “build that wall” once again made me wonder as to the abysmal difference between Ronald Reagan and Trump.

On the wall, the echoes of Reagan’s historically famous words in Berlin: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall.”

Reagan told thousands of cheering Germans about the imminent tearing down of the Berlin wall separating Germany.

But even just as important was Reagan’s philosophy on free trade: “The winds and waters of commerce carry opportunities that help nations grow and bring citizens of the world closer together. Put simply, increased trade spells more jobs, higher earnings, better products, less inflation, and cooperation over confrontation. The freer the flow of world trade the stronger the tides for economic progress and peace among nations.”

In Reagan’s mind, free trade is also a negotiated multifaceted agreement in which there are trade surpluses in some areas and deficits in other. And for sure, each of the negotiating nations is going to look for its own best interests.

Trump’s rehashing of his campaign promises to the Arizona voters and his “threat” of doing away with NAFTA for the first time did not have the same effect in Mexico, which allegedly is stealing jobs and money from the United States.

Wednesday morning Mexicans woke up for the most part cool headed on Donald The Menace and his border divisive speech in Phoenix where he again accused immigrants as “rapists.”

As expected (thinking about it after listening to The Donald’s speech) the dollar-peso currency exchange market Wednesday reacted in fear lowering the value of the peso against the dollar, showing that there is fear that he may just sign an executive order cancelling the whole schtick.

It could happen, but on the positive side it was refreshing to watch the reactions of Mexican officials and businessmen involved in the renegotiation process. Here are some quotes:

Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray who is at the helm of the dealings said:
“This was not a surprise. We must react with security and understand that this is part of a negotiation process. Mexico will continue to negotiate with clarity, firmly and with a cool head. We have to learn to react, not over react, to this type of statements.”

Furthermore, in looking back to the panic caused by Trump’s electoral campaign threats, Videgaray, who paid a high political price a year ago for inviting Trump to visit President Enrique Peña Nieto – and then go back to Arizona and make the same speech he just made Tuesday – said that “if the president of the United States wanted to terminate NAFTA, he can do it, just as it can be done by the president of Mexico or the prime minister of Canada. Simply put, all you have to do is send a letter (of intent) with a six-month leeway. If President Trump had wanted to do it, I don’t think he would have wasted eight months in a complex process with lots of people involved.”

Business leaders working in the renegotiations from a side-room also reacted.

Manuel Herrera, president of the National Confederation of Industrial Chambers (Concamin) was blunt about it: “We know who we are dealing with and what to expect. The negotiating rounds are there pursuing an integration of North America.”

Juan Pablo Castañón, president of the Business Coordinating Council (CCE) said he was ready to continue supporting Mexican government officials from the side-room where sectors state their negotiating case.

“We will continue to work with an open and respectful dialogue with all those involved in NAFTA. Our communications with the business leaders of the United States and Canada continues to be close and productive. The entrepreneurs of the three nations are convinced that free trade will lead us to be more competitive and increase development and employment.”

In short, Trump’s new Arizona tirade must be taken for what it is worth, which is, selling his case to Arizona’s good but gullible people who still support him but who, in the end, nowadays depend a great deal with trade with Mexico.

Oh, and one more thing, it was Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, both pedigreed Republicans, who conceived including Mexico into a free-trade-agreement.

Where are you, Ronnie?