Yesterday Mauricio Macri called President Enrique Peña Nieto to show some “neighborly” support for Mexico’s negotiations with Donald Trump, regarding the latter’s plans to build a wall on their countries’ border. Macri and Nieto agree, a fair and equitable resolution can only occur when a mutually supported plan is reached between Mexico and the United States.
Besides re-pledging Argentina’s friendly support in Mexico’s conversations with the US, Marci made a point of mentioning the value that exists in the commerce between Mexico and Argentina. Late January, the Trump Administration proposed a 20 percent import tax on all Mexican imports, ending the legacy of NAFTA, in order to raise funds for the wall. Ceasing free trade between Mexico and the US would drastically reduce buying power for Mexico’s main exports, which could lead to surplus and diminished GDP earning opportunities for Mexico.
The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2017
In response to possible trade retaliation from the United States, Nieto has proposed prioritizing trade with regional neighbors like Argentina, particularly in the Buenos Aires area. Given limited trade between the two countries, increased commerce could mean increased productivity for both countries and both heads of state acknowledged this, confirming “their interest to continue negotiating a bilateral agreement that allows them to strengthen the countries’ ties and free trade.”
However, Marci’s interest in trade could come off as conflicted. The 2001 ban on Argentine lemon exports to the US was lifted in late 2016 by the US Department of Agriculture. While there is a 60 day ban on lemons, enacted at the beginning of Trump’s presidency, there is potential to re-establish sales of the citrus in the US. If the US taxes Mexican imports on citrus, there may be an even more advantageous market for one of Argentina’s prized exports.
Macri appears to be taking steps to secure the best arrangements for Argentina in this time of uncertainty. Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto went on the record thanking Macri for his support. Time will tell how the negotiations between Mexico and the US play out, and what role Argentina will play in the process and aftermath.