New NAFTA Deal ‘in Trouble’, Bruised by Elections, Tariff Rows

4/8/2019 – The New York Times

800px-President_Donald_J._Trump_at_the_G20_Summit_(44300765490).jpgBy Reuters

MEXICO CITY/OTTAWA — More than six months after the United States, Mexico and Canada agreed a new deal to govern more than $1 trillion in regional trade, the chances of the countries ratifying the pact this year are receding.

The three countries struck the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA) on Sept. 30, ending a year of difficult negotiations after U.S. President Donald Trump demanded the preceding trade pact be renegotiated or scrapped.

But the deal has not ended trade tensions in North America. If ratification is delayed much longer, it could become hostage to electoral politics.

The United States has its next presidential contest in 2020, and Canada holds a federal election in October.

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WTO chief sees difficult road for trade liberalization

4/4/2019 – Associated Press

photo-1535379453347-1ffd615e2e08The World Trade Organization sees a “challenging” and “difficult” road ahead for international trade liberalization due to the current political climate.

WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo said Thursday he’s confident Mexico and the United States can sort out their current trade difficulties, which include a border-crossing slowdown, U.S. threats to close the border and the still-pending ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

But the fight to expand free trade “is going to be challenging, is going to be difficult, above all because of the political conditions we have in the world today.”

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Trump nominates new US ambassador to Mexico

3/27/2019 – The Hill

missouri_1.jpgBy Chris Mills Rodrigo

President Trump on Tuesday nominated Washington-based attorney Christopher Landau to be the next U.S. ambassador to Mexico.

Landau is a partner at the law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP and previously worked as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

If confirmed by the Senate, he would fill a position that has been empty since Roberta Jacobson resigned in May.

U.S.-Mexico relations have been strained recently by Trump’s criticism of immigrants passing through Mexico to enter the U.S. illegally, as well as his efforts to build a wall along the border between the two countries.

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AMLO at 100: Trump-Mexican president honeymoon is ending

3/11/2019 – The Hill

trump_amloOn Monday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will officially cross the 100-day mark in office. He has been a powerful figure since he won the election on July 2.

In fact, it can be said that Mexico was governed by two presidents from July through December: Enrique Peña Nieto, who was largely a lame duck during the five-month transition period and López Obrador, a then president-elect who behaved as the de facto leader of the country, making decisions that were not yet his to make.

For example, despite yet lacking executive authority, López Obrador announced the cancelation of the past administration’s landmark project: a new, $13 billion international airport.

He justified this decision through an ersatz public consultation conducted by the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), López Obrador’s party.

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Exclusive: Mexican central bank in talks with Amazon about new mobile payments

The payment system, known as CoDi, is being built by central bank Banco de México, known as Banxico. CoDi will allow customers to make payments online and in person through smartphones free of charge using QR codes. It aims to bring more people into the formal financial sector.

A pilot rollout of CoDi is expected this month, Banxico has said.

Amazon and Argentine rival MercadoLibre have approached the bank about adopting the system, Jaime Cortina, Banxico’s director of operations and payments, told Reuters.

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Mexican Farmers Urge ‘Mirror’ Tariffs on Trump’s Rural Base

3/7/2019 – The New York Times

aerial-aerial-shot-agriculture-1595108.jpgBy Reuters

MEXICO CITY — Leaders of Mexico’s agricultural sector are urging “mirror measures” on U.S. farm imports in politically sensitive products such as yellow corn and poultry, in an effort they argue would counter decades of subsidized imports from the United States.

The three-month-old government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is currently working on an updated list of products imported from its northern neighbor on which to possibly apply a second round of tariffs in response to U.S. measures imposed on Mexican steel and aluminum by the Trump Administration last year.

Last June, Mexico imposed tariffs of between 15 and 25 percent on steel products and other U.S. goods, in retaliation for the tariffs applied on the Mexican metals imports that Trump imposed citing national security concerns.

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Mexico won’t ratify new NAFTA if U.S. keeps tariffs on steel and aluminum

3/4/2019 – Financial Post

01-03-2019-FOTO-05-CONFERENCIA-DE-PRENSA-MATUTINA-1024x639.jpgOTTAWA — Mexico’s Congress will be asked to approve a major labour-reform bill this spring as a necessary step to ratifying the new North American free-trade pact later this autumn, say Mexican officials.

But unless the Trump administration lifts the punishing tariffs it has imposed on Mexican steel and aluminum imports — duties it also imposed on Canada — Mexico is prepared to keep the status quo with the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

The push to improve workers’ rights in Mexico was a key priority for Canada and the United States during the rocky NAFTA renegotiation because they wanted to level the playing field between their workers and lower-paid Mexican workers, especially in the auto sector.

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