What Can Mexico Do About Trump?

Eduardo Porter

When Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, the Mexican secretary of the

economy, came to talk to me last week about trade and the American

elections, I didn’t expect him to drag up the old spat between Mexico

and the United States over trucks.


Six million American jobs also depend on exports to Mexico, one slide

says. Mexico buys nearly $250 billion worth of stuff from the United

States. And 37 cents out of each dollar’s worth of Mexican exports to the

United States came from the United States in the form of parts and other

components. “If you throw obstacles at the relationship with Mexico, you

would be shooting yourself in the foot,” Mr. Guajardo Villarreal told me.


But perhaps a more muscular approach is needed. Jorge Castañeda, a

former Mexican foreign minister who is a harsh critic of Mr. Peña Nieto,

suggests that Mexico’s best argument is that the country’s stability and

prosperity are indispensable for the national security of the United

States. Americans worried about illegal immigration across the southern

border might stop to consider what it could look like if the Mexican

economy went into a tailspin.

If this argument fails to persuade, Mr. Castañeda argues, there are other

tools in the toolbox. Say Mexico demanded that the United States prove

that a migrant was Mexican before it would accept her back into the

country. It could deploy American courts and regulations against Mr.

Trump’s wall, pushing for things like environmental impact

assessments. “We should throw as many monkey wrenches into the

works as possible,” Mr. Castañeda said.


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