North American Climate Cooperation at a Crossroads

2/17/2017 Center for American Progress

North AmericaOver the past year, there has been significant progress in the North American effort to address climate change. One case in point is the North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership, which the national governments of the United States, Mexico, and Canada created in June 2016. Outside of the European Union, it is the most ambitious attempt yet to integrate environment, energy, and climate priorities and policies at a regional level.

Since the November 2016 U.S. presidential election, however, the North American relationship on climate change—as well as the North American relationship on a range of other issues—has been uncertain at best. This uncertainty came to the fore during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit with President Donald Trump on Monday, when climate change was mentioned in neither the leaders’ joint statement nor the joint press conference. Although it is possible that the leaders discussed it behind closed doors, there is so far no indication of this.

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Mexico Is Moving Forward on a Plan to Hit U.S. Farmers Where It Hurts

2/17/2017 Fortune 

corn farmMexico’s attempts to diversify its supplies of corn could threaten a crucial market for U.S. farmers who are increasingly dependent on exports to unload record stockpiles that are depressing prices.

Mexico buys nearly all its corn imports from the United States – shipments that totaled 13.603 million tonnes in the year ending Aug. 31, 2016. The sales account for about 28% of total U.S. corn exports, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But now Mexico wants to lessen that dependence as U.S. President Donald Trump threatens to upend trade between the countries. On Thursday, Mexico’s agriculture minister revealed plans to visit Argentina and Brazil to buy yellow corn.

A grain buyer at a corn mill in Mexico told Reuters in an email on Thursday he had already asked for price quotes from Brazilian and Argentine exporters for corn shipments to Mexico.

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Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis

2/17/2017 New York Times

mexico cityMEXICO CITY — On bad days, you can smell the stench from a mile away, drifting over a nowhere sprawl of highways and office parks.

When the Grand Canal was completed, at the end of the 1800s, it was Mexico City’s Brooklyn Bridge, a major feat of engineering and a symbol of civic pride: 29 miles long, with the ability to move tens of thousands of gallons of wastewater per second. It promised to solve the flooding and sewage problems that had plagued the city for centuries.

Only it didn’t, pretty much from the start. The canal was based on gravity. And Mexico City, a mile and a half above sea level, was sinking, collapsing in on itself.

It still is, faster and faster, and the canal is just one victim of what has become a vicious cycle. Always short of water, Mexico City keeps drilling deeper for more, weakening the ancient clay lake beds on which the Aztecs first built much of the city, causing it to crumble even further.

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Why Ditching NAFTA Could Hurt America’s Farmers More Than Mexico’s

2/16/2017 NPR

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via Flickr – Mike Mozart

Garland Reiter is one of the people behind the rise in imported food from Mexico.

His family has been growing strawberries in California for generations and selling them under the name Driscoll’s. Today, it’s the biggest berry producer in the world.

In the early 1990s, the Reiter family started growing strawberries and raspberries in Mexico, in addition to California. It found regions in Mexico where the climate allowed them to grow the fruit — especially raspberries — during seasons of the year when it hadn’t been feasible back home. “Our move really was for year-round product, and quality,” says Reiter, who is executive chairman of Reiter Associated Cos.

The North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect at that same time, in 1994. But that’s coincidence, Reiter says; NAFTA had very little to do with the move into Mexico. “To tell you the truth, we paid minimal attention to that,” he says.

Silver lining in weaker peso for Mexican miners

2/16/2017 Reuters

MiningInvestors are picking up on the benefits for Mexican silver miners of one of the biggest foreign exchange stories since November’s U.S. election, with the slide in the peso pushing costs lower while silver prices are ramping up.

The peso hit a record low last month at 22.03 to the dollar, pressured by concern over a potential trade war between the United States and Mexico in the wake of Donald Trump’s U.S. election victory.

While some say the worst of the currency’s slide may be over, the peso is expected to remain weak throughout this year, a Reuters poll showed this month.

Between 60 percent and 70 percent of silver miners’ costs in Mexico — from labor to power — are priced in pesos, an industry analyst estimates. For a company that sells its output in dollars, that suggests a significant benefit to cost margins.

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Immigrant workers, families to protest by staying home

2/15/2017 Associated Press

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via Flickr – 7-how-7

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Organizers in cities across the U.S. are telling immigrants to miss class, miss work and not shop on Thursday as a way to show the country how important they are to America’s economy and way of life.

“A Day Without Immigrants” actions are planned in cities including Philadelphia, Washington, Boston and Austin, Texas.

The protest comes in response to President Donald Trump and his 1-month-old administration. The Republican president has pledged to increase deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally, build a wall along the Mexican border, and ban people from certain majority-Muslim countries from coming into the U.S. He also has blamed high unemployment on immigration.

Employers and institutions in some cities were already expressing solidarity Wednesday with immigrant workers. Washington restaurateur John Andrade said he would close his businesses Thursday, and David Suro, owner of Tequilas Restaurant in Philadelphia and a Mexican immigrant, said he also planned to participate.

 

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2 Trump Cabinet secretaries to visit Mexico next week

2/16/2017 The Economic Times

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via Flickr – William Munoz

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mexico says U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are headed to Mexico next week.

Mexico’s foreign ministry says in a statement that the two Cabinet secretaries will be in Mexico City on Jan. 23 to meet with Mexican officials. The ministry says the talks aim to promote a respectful, close relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.

The United States has not yet confirmed the visits.

The trips come at a sensitive time for U.S.-Mexico relations. President Donald Trump is vowing to move quickly to build a border wall. A planned visit by Mexico’s leader to Washington was canceled after Mexico said it wouldn’t abide Trump’s demand that it fund the wall.

This will be Tillerson’s second official trip abroad. He’s visiting Germany this week.

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