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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