Trump to seek tariff ‘snap-back’ provision in NAFTA revamp

3/30/2017 Reuters

NAFTAThe Trump administration will seek changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement allowing it to reimpose tariffs if a flood of imports from Canada and Mexico causes “a threat of serious injury” to U.S. industry, according a draft document sent to Congress.

The administration also will seek to eliminate a requirement in the 23-year-old trade deal that anti-dumping and anti-subsidy disputes be settled via a special dispute panel. Some U.S. industries including lumber have complained that the mechanism is ineffective in stopping unfair subsidies.

The objectives are contained in a draft notification letter circulated by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to members of Congress for review. The letter, seen by Reuters, is part of the legal process required to launch negotiations to revamp the NAFTA.

President Donald Trump called NAFTA a “disaster” throughout the 2016 election campaign, but the plan outlined in the letter would keep many of its provisions in place, including a settlement system for other disputes that circumvents local courts.

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Cornyn, Cardin Lead Bipartisan Group to Affirm Strategic U.S.-Mexico Partnership in Resolution

3/29/2017 United States Senate 

” WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) today introduced a resolution to reaffirm the strategic partnership between the United States and Mexico and recognize the bilateral cooperation necessary to advance both countries’ shared interests in national security, defense, and trade.  Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) also cosponsored the resolution. 

“The United States and Mexico have long benefited from a symbiotic relationship in the areas of trade, defense, and national security,” said Sen. Cornyn. “It is vitally important, particularly for Texans, to ensure this strategic partnership is maintained by continuing to support economic and diplomatic cooperation between our two countries.”

“This bipartisan resolution is an important reaffirmation of the enduring partnership and friendship between the United States and Mexico. From diplomacy to security, immigration to trade, the United States is safer and stronger when we work together with Mexico,” said Sen. Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.“With over one million Americans living in Mexico and tens of millions of Mexican-Americans here in the U.S., our people share common values and unbreakable bonds that transcend politics.”

“Over the past few months, the United States’ relationship with Mexico has been in the spotlight for all of the wrong reasons.  But the fact is many of the challenges facing the United States cannot be effectively confronted, let alone solved, in a responsible way without cooperating and strategically planning with Mexico,”said Sen. Menendez,  Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere.  “As the U.S. and Mexico continue to be inextricably linked by geography, people, and shared economic and security interests, this bipartisan resolution reaffirms the importance that our two countries work towards strengthening our relationship, breaking down barriers and forging new areas of cooperation and growth.”

“The United States and Mexico share more than just a border—we have a deep and unbreakable bond rooted in mutual respect and a strong economic and political partnership,” said Sen. Durbin.“We must protect and strengthen this relationship to ensure that Mexico remains one of our closest allies and trading partners.”

“U.S. security and economic prosperity hinges on a strong relationship with our neighbor Mexico,” said Sen. McCain. “In my state of Arizona, over 100,000 jobs are directly dependent on trade with Mexico, and the free flow of goods and services across the border has contributed to unparalleled economic growth and development. We must do more to revitalize the spirit of partnership between our two countries and continue to strengthen our bilateral cooperation.”

Background:

The United States and Mexico have long relied on a strong, strategic partnership in the areas of defense, national security, and trade.  The resolution outlines our shared cultural and economic ties and highlights areas of cooperation including votes at the United Nations; defense, security, and law enforcement partnerships such as the Merida Initiative; and efforts by the Nieto administration to reduce domestic production of illegal drugs and extradite criminals to the United States.  The resolution reaffirms this relationship by supporting continued diplomatic, economic, and security cooperation between the two countries and fostering a relationship that is based on mutual respect and the promotion of shared democratic values and principles.”

Read text of the resolution 

Organized Crime Behind Spiking Homicides in Mexico’s Most Violent Municipalities

3/30/2017 InSight Crime

crime and drugsMexico’s security strategy for its 50 most violent municipalities has largely failed to bear fruit after six months, as criminal dynamics are still fueling increasing rates of homicides despite targeted government efforts.

Six months after the launch of a special security strategy for the 50 most violent municipalities in Mexico, the number of homicides registered between September 2016 and February 2017 increased in 37 of the municipalities in comparison to the number of murders seen during the same period of the previous year, reported Animal Político on March 27.

At the end of August 2016, President Enrique Peña Nieto said that 42 percent of all homicides in Mexico so far that year were concentrated in just 2 percent of municipalities. This concentration of violence prompted the launch of a security strategy for the 50 most affected municipalities, with the aim of strengthening social prevention programs and institutions.

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Mexico suspends judge who dismissed sexual assault charges against minor

3/30/2017 Reuters

Security and the Rule of LawA Mexican judicial panel suspended a judge on Wednesday who dismissed charges against a man accused of sexually abusing a minor on grounds that the assault had not satisfied him sexually.

The case has spurred outrage among Mexicans, who viewed it as another instance of impunity for wealthy men.

The victim, who was 17 at the time of the alleged crime in January 2015, testified that she was forced into a car in the eastern state of Veracruz by four young men who began to sexually assault her.

She testified she was then taken to a home and raped.

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Mexican state attorney general arrested in San Diego on drug charges

3/30/2017 Reuters

handcuffsThe attorney general of Mexico’s Pacific coast state of Nayarit, hard hit by drug cartel violence in recent years, has been arrested in San Diego on U.S. narcotics trafficking conspiracy charges, federal officials said on Wednesday.

Edgar Veytia, 45, who has served as the top law enforcement officer of Nayarit since 2013, was charged in a seven-page, three-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Monday in the New York borough of Brooklyn and unsealed on Tuesday.

He was taken into custody on Monday in San Diego by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations, acting on an arrest warrant, an FBI spokeswoman in San Diego said.

The arrest is another blow for Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, which governs Nayarit and is reeling from corruption scandals that have led a number of former governors to flee criminal charges.

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Mexico’s governors tap investors in China, elsewhere

3/30/2017 Reuters

mexico-chinaMexico’s states are turning to Asia and beyond as some U.S. companies put investment plans on hold south of the border following President Donald Trump’s calls to bring jobs back home.

A delegation of three Mexican state leaders, headed by the National Confederation of Governors (Conago), traveled to China this week to meet with business leaders and discuss investment opportunities.

“Conago is developing an agenda with China’s provinces to build investment projects in our country,” Conago tweeted on Wednesday. “China and Conago agree on building bridges for business, not walls.”

Fears of a hit to foreign investment ran high when Ford Motor Co (F.N) canceled a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico’s central state of San Luis Potosi in January.

Trump, who had railed against U.S. manufacturers investing in Mexico, hailed the decision as a major victory, but Ford put it down to declining demand for small cars.

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Sex Assault Dismissal Causes Outrage in Mexico, Appeal Vowed

3/29/2017 New York Times

lawMEXICO CITY — Prosecutors in southern Mexico say they are appealing a court ruling that dismissed pederasty charges against a suspect because there was no proof he acted “with lascivious intent.”

The ruling shocked many in Mexico, where the case already had become emblematic of the impunity often enjoyed by wealthy males.

The 17-year-old victim testified she was dragged into a car between two young men, one of whom fondled her breasts and one introduced his fingers into her vagina.

The judge granted the youth an injunction to dismiss the case because “an incidental touching or fondling will not be considered sexual acts, if proof is not presented that it was done to satisfy a sexual desire.”

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