Mexico’s president-elect has offered two important clues about his approach to NAFTA

07/16/2018 The Washington Post

On July 1, for the first time in over four decades, Mexican voters elected a left-wing president. Before Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s 30-point victory, Mexico had six consecutive administrations that embraced a free-market model while almost every other country in Latin America took a left turn.

The electoral result has been chalked up as a referendum on a presidency that oversaw rampant corruption, worsening cartel violence and a doubling of the national debt. But given the economic indicators, the election of a president who promises to confront inequality was well overdue. After average yearly growth rates of over 3 percent from the 1930s through the 1970s, per capita GDP growth has averaged less than 1 percent since 1980. Fifty-three percent of Mexicans live in poverty, the same proportion as in 1992. Over the same period, the wealth of Mexico’s 16 billionaires has grown more than fivefold.

Given this drain of wealth upward, why did Mexico lag so far behind the rest of Latin America in electing a leader aiming to change the economic model?

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Hardball Trade Tactics Will Leave US Workers Battered and Bruised

6/6/2018 The Hill

By Earl Anthony Wayne, Public Policy Fellow, Mexico Institute

A long-time U.S. trade guru joked last week that as a rule of thumb, he favors trying to manage only one trade war at a time, not multiple trade conflicts at once as the U.S. is attempting.

As the danger of costly missteps and negative consequences with international partners becomes more evident, the United States needs a serious debate over the current approach and making course adjustments. The alternative could leave the U.S. trying to recoup after paying the price at home and abroad.

The U.S. has imposed new tariffs on steel and aluminum targeting nations that are long-time allies and friends in Europe and North America for “national security” reasons, rather than focusing on rival and trade bad-boy China, sparking alarms from pundits and experts from across the political spectrum.

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UPCOMING EVENT | Beyond “Coyotes”: Current Trends in the Facilitation of Irregular Migration in Latin America

WHEN: April 5, 2018, 9-11am

WHERE: 6th Floor, Wilson Center

Click to RSVP

For generations, the persona of the coyote, or smuggler, as facilitator of irregular migration has been a central figure in Latin American migrants’ accounts of their journeys ‘up north.’ While traditionally viewed as providing a necessary service, smugglers are increasingly depicted as violent and predatory men often operating in collusion with other illicit networks for the sole purpose of obtaining financial profits. This narrative, while compelling, often obscures the fact that migrants’ reliance on coyotes is a response to multiple factors.

This event shifts the focus away from the coyote. It sheds light on how, across Latin America, the increasingly punitive nature of immigration enforcement, shifting migration trends, and the presence of other actors—including those from other illicit markets — have altered the landscape of traditional irregular migration facilitation strategies, often to the detriment of migrants’ safety.

Join us for a discussion about current trends in smuggling and its organization, the shifting roles of migrants in the market, and the additional criminal risks many of them face as a result.  Speakers will present findings from their research in South and Central America, Mexico, and the US-Mexico border:

Welcome and Moderator: 

Eric L. Olson, Senior Adviser, Mexico Institute; Deputy Director, Latin American Program Wilson Center

Presenters

Victoria Stone Cadena: “Coyoterismo in the Americas: the myths of mobility”
Associate Director, Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Gabriella Sanchez: “Care, protection and support during smuggling journeys in the Central America-Mexico -US Mexico border migration corridor” 
Research Fellow, Migration Policy Centre, The Robert Schuman Centre, European University Institute

Sheldon Zhang: “Migrant Smuggling and its convergence with other illicit markets along the US Mexico Border” 
Chair and Professor, School of Criminology and Justice Studies, University of Massachusetts Lowell

Commentator

Dr. Louise Shelley
Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Endowed Chair; Director, Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC), Schar School of Policy and Government,  George Mason University

Click to RSVP

How Violence Could Hijack Mexico’s Presidential Elections

03/28/2018 Insight Crime

shutterstock_230064685A spate of attacks against politicians ahead of the July presidential elections in Mexico has once again turned attention to the influence of criminal organizations in the country’s politics, with experts warning that these crimes have historically had negative effects on citizens’ participation on polling day.

More than a dozen political figures have been murdered in Mexico since the start of this year — an average of more than one per week. On March 27, gunmen opened fire on a congressional candidate in the state of San Luis Potosí, leaving him gravely wounded.

Incidents like these have further heightened concerns about rising levels of violence among citizens gearing up to choose a new president. But evidence suggests insecurity could discourage potential voters from showing up at the polls.

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Earl Anthony Wayne discusses U.S.-Mexico Relations on C-SPAN Washington Journal

2/4/2018 C-SPAN Washington Journal

Earl Anthony Wayne, Mexico Institute Fellow and former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, talked about the state of U.S.-Mexico relations amid disputes over immigration and trade.

 

Watch video…

 

Mexico in 2018

01/9/2018 The Expert Take

expert I (2)By Luis Rubio

The presidential election of 2018 will be the first to be held in Mexico without an international anchor that guarantees the continuity of economic policy since the era of competitive, democratic elections was inaugurated back in the 90s. That anchor has proven to be key to attracting investment and conferring certainty to the population as well as to investors and hence, to the gradual evolution of the country. This does not necessarily mean that there will be radical changes in the government’s strategy. However, for the first time since NAFTA came into effect in 1994, the decision of how to conduct the country’s destiny will no longer be constrained by international commitments and, thus, whoever wins the upcoming election will have unbound power in this regard. The whole political point of NAFTA -an established framework to work under any electoral scenario- will no longer be there. Mexico is living a completely new political reality.

The rhetorical attacks on trade matters and, particularly, NAFTA that President Trump launched since his campaign in 2016 and his insistence on the possibility of cancelling it, has had a decisive impact on Mexican politics. By eliminating the “untouchable” character of the deal within Mexico, the certainty that emanated from it has also evaporated. Even if NAFTA were to continue (in my opinion, the most likely scenario), the damage already inflicted is enormous- as the high domestic political costs that a withdrawal at Mexico’s behest would have entailed no longer exist.

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Decisions on trio of trade partners loom large for US in 2018

01/10/2018 The Hill

CSCL_Globe_arriving_at_Felixstowe,_United_Kingdom (1)By Earl Anthony Wayne

The Trump administration has China, Canada and Mexico at the top of the trade agenda for 2018. Decisions are pending about trade sanctions on China and about modernizing or leaving the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

These are America’s top-three trading partners and export markets. Millions of U.S. jobs and many billions of dollars in trade and investment are in the balance, as are key U.S. strategic interests. The costs of missteps can be very high.

The U.S. administration is considering imposing trade penalties on its largest trading partner, China, for intellectual property (IP) theft and forced technology transfers, for underpricing solar panels sold in the U.S. and for subsidizing the cost of steel and aluminum exports to the U.S.

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