Mexico eyes duty-free corn deals to counter Trump

3/26/2017 Financial Times

cornMexico, the world’s biggest buyer of US corn, is considering offering duty-free access to Brazilian and Argentine maize as an alternative to American imports in a move that could have big consequences for US farmers worried about Donald Trump’s trade and tax agenda.

Mexico at present imports 98 per cent of its corn from the US, and total US farm sales to Mexico were $17.7bn last year — five times greater than when the North American Free Trade Agreement came into force in 1994. Mexican corn imports from the US were worth $2.3bn in 2015, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

But Mr Trump, US president, has slammed Nafta as unfair to the US, vowing to renegotiate the deal or walk away, impelling Mexico to speed up a search for alternative suppliers in South America.

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Trump’s Border Wall With Mexico Faces All Kinds of Obstacles

3/27/2017 U.S. News & World Report

Border fenceWASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has now laid out exactly what he wants in the “big, beautiful wall” that he’s promised to build on the U.S.-Mexico border. But his effort to build a huge barrier to those attempting to enter the U.S. illegally faces impediments of its own.

It’s still not clear how Trump will pay for the wall that, as described in contracting notices, would be 30 feet (9 meters) high and easy on the eye for those looking at it from the north. The Trump administration will also have to contend with unfavorable geography and many legal battles.

 

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Meet the Little-Known Mexican Cartel Operating in California

3/24/2017 InSightCrime

drugsA little-known drug trafficking group in Mexico called “Las Moicas” has not only successfully defended its foothold in the US heroin market for years against Mexico’s most powerful cartels, but recent reports suggest that it might be expanding.

In an interview with BBC Mundo published on March 15, a spokesperson for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said that the Moicas had been expanding their territory in Mexico and that the little-known group had come into conflict with some of Mexico’s biggest criminal organizations, including the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG).

According to a July 2015 report from the DEA, eight major Mexican transnational criminal groups were known to be operating in the United States. Alongside prominent players like the Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG, appeared a trafficking organization called Las Moicas.

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Extortion of Mexico Electric Company Spotlights State Weaknesses

3/23/2017 InSightCrime

Energy -electricity_transmission_linesOrganized crime groups are extorting Mexico’s federal electricity company, highlighting the ways in which criminal organizations are exploiting the state’s weakness to increase their revenues.

Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission (Comisión Federal de Electricidad – CFE) has suffered extortions by organized crime groups in the north and west of the country, reported Zeta Tijuana.

According to Gustavo Cuevas, a CFE executive, criminals are allegedly telling local businesses not to pay the energy company, and to pay organized crime groups instead.

“They approach a company, a textile factory, and say: from now on you no longer pay for your electricity. You are going to pay me for it,” Cuevas told Reforma.

At the same time, criminal groups are allegedly threatening CFE employees not to cut power to businesses that are paying criminals rather than the energy company.

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Mexico seeking opportunities to tap debt markets

3/24/2017 Reuters

4350685550_dbd28c7e50Mexico is closely looking for windows of opportunity to issue more debt and improve its loan portfolio, Finance Ministry Undersecretary Vanessa Rubio said in an interview on Thursday.

Mexico last week announced a new $3.15 billion 10-year bond issue, its first transaction in the dollar bond market this year. This follows a bounce in emerging market assets following relatively dovish talk by Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen.

“Our debt issuances in international debt markets have been highly valued and we’re not obligated to issue any more because our debt requirements have been met,” Rubio told Reuters on the sidelines of a banking conference in the seaside-resort city Acapulco. “Still, we’re monitoring market conditions to see if there are windows of opportunity to take advantage of to improve our position.”

Mexican issuers had stayed clear of the dollar market in 2017 as heated rhetoric over U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade policies pummeled both the peso and debt prices.

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Some Mexicans want to retaliate against Trump by boycotting a $2.5 billion export

3/23/2017 Business Insider

corn - loose yellow cornMany in Mexico have contemplated how Mexico could retaliate against President Donald Trump since he debuted his anti-Mexican rhetoric during the campaign.

In the weeks after Trump’s election, as his hardline on trade relations and immigration remained firm, Mexico’s government appeared to outline how it could rebuke the US government should it install hostile policies.

“If they place on us a tax on Mexican exports,” Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told the Chamber of Deputies in late February, according La Jornada, “we are going to put one on them, but better, because we are going to choose [those exports] which hurt them.”

His remarks came a few days after Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Mexico needed to prepare to immediately “take a fiscal action that clearly neutralizes” a potential US border tax.

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Carstens Says Peso Undervalued by as Much as 10% on U.S. Concern

3/23/2017 Bloomberg

Passport and Mexican PesosMexico’s peso is undervalued by as much as 10 percent even if the “unknown” of bilateral relations with the U.S. is taken into account, central bank Governor Agustin Carstens said.

The currency is closer to where it should be, but is still undervalued by “no more than 10 percent,” Carstens said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Erik Schatzker on the sidelines of a banking conference in Acapulco. Carstens added that while the central bank is watching inflation to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand, for now it is progressing as it should given the price shocks Mexico is facing, such as a surge in gasoline prices.

Mexico felt the initial brunt of Donald Trump’s presidency after the peso crumbled amid threats he’d rework or scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement and build a border wall that Mexico would pay for. The currency has since made a comeback as one of the best performers this year after White House officials said they’re confident a trade deal can be reached to benefit both countries, although it has yet to return to pre-election levels.

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