1/26/2017 The Atlantic
It only took a matter of days for the economic ties between the United States and Mexico to begin to unravel. Both presidents had been laying out their cards in the days leading up to their meeting, which was scheduled for Tuesday, when they were expected to start renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.
On Tuesday, Enrique Peña Nieto told the Mexican press that he was prepared for Mexico to leave NAFTA all together if he didn’t like Trump’s proposals. On Wednesday, Peña Nieto’s top ministers traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with Trump’s staff. That afternoon, Trump signed an executive order to start building a wall on the southern border, insisting that Mexico would pay. That night, Peña Nieto said he wouldn’t pay for the wall. On Thursday, everything seemed to fall apart over Twitter. Trump tweeted that Peña Nieto shouldn’t come to Washington if Mexico won’t pay for the wall. Minutes later, Peña Nieto sent out his own tweet, announcing that he was canceling his trip to Washington, then followed up with another tweet saying he was still willing to work with the United States “to reach an agreement that is favorable to both countries.” By the end of the day, Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer said a border tax on Mexican imports would pay for the wall, though he later clarified to Peter Alexander of NBC News that this was not a specific proposal but an “example of options,” as Alexander phrased it, for how to fund the wall. (Mexico is America’s third-biggest goods trading partner.)