Defying fears over Trump, Mexico first-quarter economic growth holds steady

5/22/2017 Reuters

4350685550_dbd28c7e50Increased farm output and services led Mexico’s economy to grow at the same clip in the first quarter as in the previous three-month period, shrugging off fears that Donald Trump’s presidency would quickly cause havoc to Mexican exports and investment.

The country’s gross domestic product grew at a rate of 0.7 percent, the same pace as in the fourth quarter, according to seasonally adjusted data from national statistics agency INEGI on Monday.

The election of Donald Trump last year raised the specter of recession in Mexico as he threatened to shred the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and pursue policies that could hurt the Mexican economy. This sent the country’s peso into a tailspin and prompted some economists to lower growth forecasts.

Nonetheless, slow progress in starting NAFTA talks and an overall softening of rhetoric about U.S. companies that invest in Mexico have calmed nerves for now.

Compared with the first quarter of 2016, GDP expanded 2.8 percent.

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Complex World of Border Trade: Cattle Go North, Meat South

5/22/2017 New York Times

meat-packagingREYNOSA, Mexico — Waving arms and brandishing a long electric prod, the ranch hands and truck drivers herd about 400 leggy calves onto trucks as the sun crests on the outskirts of this border city. After spending their first eight months on the ranches of Gildardo Lopez Hinojosa, the calves are about to cross the border — bound for Texas and U.S. feed lots beyond.

On one of the three bridges connecting Reynosa with Texas, they might cross paths with the beef and chicken shipments that Lopez imports from the U.S. for his local chains of butcher shops and fried chicken restaurants. He gets the best price for his calves in the U.S. and it’s cheaper for him to import U.S. chicken than ship Mexican chicken from the country’s interior.

Lopez has been selling calves and buying beef across the border for about as long as the North American Free Trade Agreement has been in effect. President Donald Trump has said the agreement that is the basis for much of the $500 billion annual trade between the U.S. and Mexico needs to be renegotiated or scrapped entirely. To hear him tell it, NAFTA was “a catastrophic trade deal for the United States.”

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Mexico private sector eyes more NAFTA content in future products

5/19/2017 Reuters

2779393681_48d4b53032_bA modernization of the NAFTA trade deal should protect existing industrial supply chains in North America, but could seek to source more work for future products from the member states to help create jobs, a top Mexican negotiator in the process said.

The government of U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday triggered the process to start renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada and Mexico, which could usher in formal talks by mid-August.

Trump has threatened to jettison the 23-year-old accord if he cannot rework it in favor of the United States, arguing it has gutted U.S. manufacturing by outsourcing jobs to Mexico.

NAFTA’s supporters say the integration of lower-cost Mexico into production chains has safeguarded employment by enabling North America to compete better with Asian and European rivals.

Mexican business leaders say toughening rules that stipulate a certain amount of content must be sourced from North America to qualify for NAFTA certification could be one way of allaying U.S. fears, and pave the way for an agreement on the revamp.

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Mexico’s avocado army: how one city stood up to the drug cartels

5/18/2017 The Guardian

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Flickr/Hector E Balcazar

Javier is finally starting to feel safe. A gruff 46-year-old avocado grower with a laugh like an idling Harley Davidson, Javier still remembers the gruesome reports of cartel gunmen kidnapping and killing a neighbour’s daughter, torching a local avocado packaging facility and murdering a pregnant schoolteacher. But the memories are starting to fade.

Tancitaro, the world capital of avocado production, has finally achieved a semblance of stability. It has been over two years since the last pitched battles between vigilante fighters and cartel gunmen on the outskirts. Families whose orchards were seized by cartel gunmen are now running their farms again. “The government doesn’t rule here. But it’s under control. You can relax,” he says.

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Ricketts Touts Nebraska, Mexico Relationship Through NAFTA

5/16/2017 U.S. News & World Report

nebraskaGov. Pete Ricketts is touting Nebraska’s trade relationship with Mexico as the Trump administration prepares for new talks with Mexico and Canada over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Ricketts said Tuesday that NAFTA plays a crucial role for Nebraska’s corn producers and helps support an estimated 34,000 jobs in the state.

He made the comments during a news conference at the Capitol with a Mexican trade delegation and representatives of the U.S. Grains Council and the National Corn Growers Association.

Mexico is Nebraska’s largest export market for corn, providing $287 million in added value to the state economy. Ricketts says bilateral trade with the country has helped grow agriculture.

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Mexican beef exporters look to Muslim markets as U.S. alternatives

5/12/2017 Reuters

meat2Mexico’s growing beef industry is targeting Muslim consumers in the Middle East for its prime cuts as it seeks to reduce dependence on buyers in the United States.

The potential for a U.S.-Mexico trade war under President Donald Trump has accelerated efforts by Mexican beef producers to explore alternative foreign markets to the United States, which buys 94 percent of their exports worth nearly $1.6 billion last year.

Trump has vowed to redraw terms of trade with Mexico and Canada to the benefit of the United States. Mexican beef companies fear they may be dragged into a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement between the three countries.

That has firms looking to the Middle East, where most meat is imported from non-Muslim countries using animals slaughtered by the halal method prescribed by Islamic law.

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Brazil, Mexico look to strengthen trade ties as NAFTA talks loom

5/11/2017 Reuters

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Flickr/Andrew Dallos

A Mexican delegation of government and private sector representatives is in talks with Brazilian counterparts to close new supply deals of corn, soy and rice and reduce dependence on U.S. trade, members of the delegation said on Thursday.

In the second day of a three-day mission to Brazil, Raúl Urteaga, general coordinator of international affairs at Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture, said the main purpose of the visit is to accelerate business contacts between the two countries as part of broader efforts to diversify Mexico’s trade ties with nations other that the United States.

The delegation also visited Argentina.

“The main reason for the mission this week is to look for Brazilian suppliers of grains,” Urteaga said.

Mexico wants to substitute mainly U.S. corn suppliers.

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