Wednesday, August 02, 2017

NAFTA is safe and Trump has become less dangerous to Mexico

According to Economist (27 July) seventy percent of farmworkers in US are Mexicans. In California it is even higher at 90%. The farm industry, especially the fruits and vegetable part, faces serious problems of shortage of workers, after Trump's persecution of Mexicans. The American farmers had to plough under vegetables and fruits since they did not have enough pickers. The wages have gone upto 19 dollars per hour in some places.This means that US has to increase imports of fruits and vegetables.

The US has a provision for guest workers under H2A. In 2016 US imported 134,000 guest workers. The request for H2A visa have steadily increased from 55000 in 2011. Even Trump's son Eric has applied for 29 visas for workers for his vineyard.

It is, therefore, not surprising that Trump barks less these days at Mexico under pressure from the farm lobby. He is just trying to tweak NAFTA a little for face saving rather than rip off the Treaty as he threatened during campaign. He had earlier claimed that NAFTA was the worst ever deal signed by US. He has now realised that most of the Mexican factories which export to US using NAFTA belong to his own American buddies who have set up assembly and manufacturing units in Mexico to cut costs. In fact, Mexico has helped US companies to reduce their over dependence on China for manufacturing and diversify. Today Mexico has become more competitive than China in the production of cars and appliances thanks to the Chinese wage rise. Trump can only bully those American companies who want to set up new plants in Mexico but not those who are already established there. If Trump stops the ongoing flow of Mexican-made products into US, the American industry will suffer more since they cannot quickly shut their Mexican shops and restart in US.

Mexico has also hinted that it can play its trump card. They have announced that they will reduce/stop import of corn and some other food products from US and source them from Argentina and Brazil. This has alarmed the US exporters of such products who are now putting pressure on Trump administration. 
If Trump wants to reduce trade deficit he should go after China with whom the US trade deficit is a massive 366 billion dollars while it is just 66 bn with Mexico in 2016.

So NAFTA is safe and Trump is no longer a serious threat but just a minor nuisance to Mexico.

According to a Pew research centre study, more Mexicans have left US than arrived in the period 2005-14 even before the apparition of Trump. 
The Trump Wall seems to have become like a Magical Realism..Trump, the Caudillo, is set for 'one hundred years of solitude'.

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