Op-Ed | Getting North America Right

5/9/2016 Mexico Institute blog, Forbes.com

By Earl Anthony Wayne, Public Policy Fellow, Wilson Center

nafta (2)When the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States meet on June 29 for a North American Leaders Summit (NALS), they will have two big tasks: 1) to explain clearly why cooperation between the three countries is of great value; and 2) to give clear directions to their officials to do the hard technical work so that cooperation produces solid results for economic growth and competitiveness, for mutual security, for the shared continental environment, and for international cooperation where we can do more together than individually.

Since Mexico hosted the last so-called “Three Amigos” Summit in 2014, the tone in the U.S. domestic political debate has turned very critical of cooperation across the continent, whereas the actual collaboration and mutual understanding between the governments has improved.  The potential to help make all three countries more competitive in the world and to become a model for regional cooperation has increased, even as the electoral campaign attacks on the relationship with the United States’ two top export markets sharpened starkly.

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Ford picks Mexico to build new plant that will add 2,800 jobs

4/5/16 USA Today 

2000px-Ford_Motor_Company_Logo.svgFord Motor (F) said Tuesday it will invest $1.6 billion to build a new plant in San Luis Potosí, Mexico to build small cars, making it the latest automaker to expand its presence there.

Ford’s investment in Mexico will create more than 2,800 jobs by 2020, delivering a blow to the UAW, which pushed for higher wages in its contract talks with the automaker last year. The announcement also comes amid a presidential election where the the leading Republican candidate, Donald Trump, has publicly pressured Ford to drop its plans to expand in Mexico.

Ford said today it remains committed to investing in the U.S. and adding jobs in America even as it expands its presence in Mexico.

“We have to make decisions on a global scale because we compete globally,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s vice president and president of the America’s told the Free Press. “But lets be clear: We are a proud American company and the majority of our investment happens here in the U.S.”

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Nafta May Have Saved Many Autoworkers’ Jobs

3/29/16 New York Times

TLC_mapWhen Donald Trump threatened to “break” the North American Free Trade Agreement, auto industry workers offered up some of the loudest cheers.

Mr. Trump easily won the Republican primary in Michigan this month. The state, home base for the American auto industry, also delivered an upset victory to Bernie Sanders, the Democratic anti-Nafta standard-bearer.

But the autoworkers’ animosity is aiming at the wrong target. There are still more than 800,000 jobs in the American auto sector. And there is a good case to be made that without Nafta, there might not be much left of Detroit at all.

“Without the ability to move lower wage jobs to Mexico we would have lost the whole industry,” said Gordon Hanson of the University of California, San Diego, who has been studying the impact of Nafta on industries and workers since its inception more than two decades ago.

Even in the narrowest sense — to protect jobs in car assembly plants — a wall of tariffs against America’s southern neighbor would probably do more harm than good.

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The United States and Mexico: Building and Designing Things Together

2/24/2016 The Mexico Institute, Forbes.com

By E. Anthony Wayne and Sergio M. Alcocer

forbes14,800 container trucks cross the U.S.-Mexico border each day. They carry much of the $1.6 billion in daily trade that makes Mexico the third largest economic partner and the second largest export market of the U.S., and that makes the U.S. Mexico’s top economic partner.  Mexico is the largest international buyer for some 23 U.S. states, and the U.S. buys about 80% of Mexico’s exports.  

These facts indicate why Vice President Biden, three cabinet secretaries and other U.S. officials will be in Mexico City February 25 meeting Mexican counterparts, led by Secretary of Finance Videgaray, for the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue.  Biden and others will check progress on the dozens of areas where the two governments have been working since 2013 to make it less costly and more efficient to trade between us and to build things together as we compete with other global producers.

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Mexico Institute Resources on the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue

Vice President Joe Biden and several other high-level U.S. officials are traveling to Mexico for the third meeting of the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue, which will take place in Mexico City on February 25, 2016. The U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED) was created by Presidents Barack Obama and Enrique Peña Nieto in May 2013, in order to advance strategic economic and commercial priorities that are central to promoting regional economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness for Mexico and the United States. The HLED meets annually at the cabinet level, and builds on and promotes sustained progress in a range of existing successful bilateral dialogues and working groups.

In a recent interview on NPR’s Marketplace, Director Duncan Wood suggested the meeting would address the Trans Pacific Partnership, including its potential impact on will U.S.-Mexico trade, and how lower energy prices are affecting the economies and competitiveness of the region. The Mexico Institute is pleased to share with you several recent articles regarding U.S.-Mexico economic relations published ahead of the HLED.

Related Material

The United States and Mexico: Building and Designing Things Together
In this article on Forbes.com, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and current Wilson Center Public Policy Fellow E. Anthony Wayne joins former Under Secretary for North America of Mexico’s Foreign Ministry and current UNAM Professor Sergio Alcocer to write about U.S.-Mexico trade and the agenda items for the High Level Economic Dialogue.

Depressed Energy Prices Cause Decline in U.S.-Mexico Trade
Deputy Director Christopher Wilson writes about the impact of low energy prices on U.S.-Mexico trade in this post on the Mexico Institute Forbes blog.

The “Bridge to Nowhere” Now Connects the United States and Mexico
On February 4, 2016, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and U.S. Secretaries of Homeland Security and Commerce inaugurated a new border crossing just south of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne and Deputy Director Christopher Wilson discuss this in their op-ed on Forbes.com.

North American Needs to Pivot…to North America
In this U.S. election year, it is important to shift the conversation to the importance of U.S. relations with Mexico and Canada. This column, by the former Canadian ambassador to the U.S., the former Mexican ambassador to the U.S., and the former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, suggests that all three nations increase their focus on advancing trilateral economic relations and improve collaboration on major security issues including illegal trafficking, extremism, and terrorism. This article appeared in The World Post, The Globe and Mail, and El Universal.

Depressed Energy Prices Cause Decline in U.S.-Mexico Trade


2/23/2016 Forbes.com

By Christopher Wilson, Deputy Director, Mexico Institute

forbesFrom 2009-2014, U.S.-Mexico trade skyrocketed. Bilateral trade grew 75%, faster than U.S. trade with any other major trading partner, including China (61%), and importantly, both imports and exports were growing rapidly. In 2015, trade growth came to a screeching halt, though strong fundamentals suggest this may be more of a temporary blip than a new trajectory.

The Census Bureau recently released U.S. merchandise trade statistics for 2015, and though Mexico is still the United States’ second largest export market and third largest overall trading partner, for the first time since the economic crisis of 2008-2009, U.S.-Mexico trade declined from the previous year’s level. Interestingly, as shown in the graph below, U.S.-Canada trade dropped sharply in 2015, allowing China to become the United States’ top trading partner. In 2014, the two countries traded $534.3 billion, but in 2015 that number fell to $531.1, a decline of some $3.2 billion dollars. U.S. imports from Mexico basically held steady, growing from $294.1 to $294.7 billion, although this apparent stagnation masks multiple underlying trends. Exports, on the other hand, dropped some $3.8 billion. This brief analysis examines recent trends in bilateral trade and their implications for the future of U.S. and Mexican economies.

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Andres Oppenheimer: Obama’s TPP may reshape world trade

2/6/2016 Miami Herald

The formal signing last week of the world’s biggest trade and investment agreement — the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP — went almost unnoticed in most countries, but it could soon start to change the world’s economic and political maps.

One of the reasons why the 12-country trade agreement’s Thursday signing ceremony in New Zealand drew little world attention was that neither President Barack Obama nor other leaders of participating countries attended the event, and chose to send their trade ministers instead…

…“The TPP does not aim to create divisions within Latin America, although it will accentuate the contrast between TPP member countries’ pursuit of export-oriented growth strategies, and the more closed economic models of countries such as Brazil and Venezuela,” says Christopher Wilson, of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Mexico Institute.