Vicente Fox: Withdrawing From NAFTA Will Hurt the U.S., Not Mexico

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Key Speakers At The Bloomberg Mexico Economic Summit
President Vicente Fox. Photo: Susana Gonzalez

In his speech accepting the GOP’s presidential nomination tonight, Donald Trump reiterated his longstanding campaign promise to either renegotiate or withdraw from NAFTA, calling it “one of the worst economic deals ever made by our country — or, frankly, any other country.” In an interview with the New York Times this week, he affirmed that he would pull out of the trade deal “in a split second.”

This pledge, part of Trump’s notable break with the Republican Party’s longstanding support of free trade, is part of an effort to court white working-class voters in America’s industrial heartland, including Bernie Sanders voters. NAFTA, in particular, is blamed for having relocated many American manufacturing jobs to Mexico, so opposition to the agreement jibes well with Trump’s general dislike of anything traversing our country’s southern border.

But according to former Mexican president Vicente Fox, if the U.S. were to withdraw from NAFTA under a prospective President Trump, it wouldn’t make much difference to Mexico. Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday, Fox said his country could find plenty of other trade partners if the U.S. were to pull out of the agreement.

There are a lot of great friends around the world, like China, like Japan, like Asia, like Latin America, where Mexico can do business. If [the] United States would not like to do business with Mexico, we can do it somewhere else,” he said, stressing that the U.S. would be the main loser.

Mexico imports from [the] United States over 750 billion U.S. dollars every year. We import, we buy from [the] United States. That means over 10 million jobs for U.S. citizens. So you don’t lose jobs by trading. You gain wealth and opportunities to your people.”

Fox also, unsurprisingly, expressed opposition to Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, and urged American voters to reject the Republican candidate, whom he described as “a false prophet” who is “cheating people.”

Earlier this month, Mexico’s current president Enrique Peña Nieto begged to differ from Trump’s insistence that Mexico could be cajoled into paying for the proposed border wall. Earlier, Peña Nieto had compared Trump’s rhetoric about Mexican immigrants — whom he has characterized as criminals, drug traffickers, and rapists — to that of Adolf Hitler.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, whose country is the other party to NAFTA, has been mostly quiet about the election in the U.S., declining to take sides or react to campaign rhetoric. In March, Trudeau commented that he wasn’t worried about the “little spikes of protectionism” that happen during elections and didn’t expect talk of reopening NAFTA negotiations to pan out.

The challenge is once you reopen it a little bit, they all tend to unravel, and it’s too important for both of our economies to continue to have a strong trading relationship,” he said.

Vicente Fox: U.S. Will Lose If NAFTA Scuttled