IMAGE: Flags from the three NAFTA nations: Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The United States needs Mexico just as much as Mexico needs the United States. But few media pundits dwell about it. It’s boring stuff. Besides, it isn’t the kind of content that draws readers to a newspaper, eyes and ears to the TV screen or viewers to a website. The topic isn’t the “if it bleeds it leads” type of news that media folks hunger for. It’s just a reality about an ever-growing symbiotic relationship between two countries next to each other, one rich, the other one not so rich.
Nowadays, when it comes to Mexico or news about Mexicans, most of the coverage is usually tied to the drivel that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth regarding the Spanish-speaking nation to the south. The common thread in his comments about Mexicans, by the way, is trash talk; the kindling he relies on to fire up his rabid political base. It works for him, there’s no doubt. It helped him launch his successful presidential campaign a couple of years ago, and continues to work for him whenever he needs to resort to a media distraction for political reasons.
Trump is a shrewd guy, that’s for sure; shrewd, as in cagey and conniving, like most snake oil salesmen. And like most sly and underhanded benders of the truth, he often discards the facts and turns to lies to support his bravado. That’s how he’s able to sell his wares to a large segment of America that likes what he says and follow him blindly. It’s sad.
When it comes to Mexico and the Mexicans, though, his uncalled for trash talk and his international trade actions are about to backfire on him. The proverbial you know what is also about to hit the fan. Trump folks in Iowa, Wisconsin, Texas and other states will soon “suffer the slings and arrows of an outrages fortune” because of the trade war started by the quirky and grandstanding president.
Soon after Trump decided to impose a tariff on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico and other countries, the nation to the south retaliated with a twenty percent tariff on pork shoulders and legs. Mexico is the second largest market for U.S. pork exports, by the way, and last year bought about a billion dollars of the product from American suppliers. Talk about Iowa farmers that voted for Trump getting financially hurt if the tariff on pork remains.
More than a friend of America, Mexico is the third largest U.S. trading partner, following China and Canada. It’s also the second largest importer of U.S. goods and services. Canada is the largest. In 2017, Mexico’s imports from the United States reached over $243 billion. Only Canada purchased more that year ($300 billion). China, by the way, America’s largest trading partner, only imported $130 billion in goods and services from the United States in 2017. These figures are based on information published by the U.S. Census Bureau.
If commercial relations between Mexico and its neighbor to the north continue to go sour because of Trump’s actions, the negative economic impact will be monumental. Some states will feel it more than others. Texas, for example, exported over $97 billion to Mexico in 2017. There’s a huge potential “ouch” hovering over the Lone Star State if Trump keeps up his craziness. Wisconsin’s exports to Mexico at $3.2 billion are much smaller, but still significant. Lots of dairy products are sent to Mexico from that state. Corn exports will also get hurt. Last year Mexico imported $19 billion of American corn, but with all the Trump trash talk about NAFTA, Mexicans are turning to South America, mainly Brazil, for some of their corn needs. That’s another big “ouch.” The picture doesn’t look good. It’s really pretty ominous for a lot of farmers and many other hard working Americans.
Trump often exaggerates and lies, but figures don’t. They call it like it is. And like it has been. When it comes to Mexico and Mexicans, many Americans, especially those under the Trumpian spell, need to realize that the nation to the south is not the enemy. It is actually a friend and a needed trading partner.
Pogo, of comic strip fame, summarized well many years ago. The enemy is us. Yes, us, for allowing a boastful reality TV showman to run our country.
AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez