Mr. Trump: More specifics about Mexico paying for the wall
Donald Trump is "gringo numero uno" in the Mexican media, from the serious pundits to the comedians who make fun of his hair.
My friend Allan Wall just got back from one of his trips to Mexico and posted a long list of samples about how our friends south of the border are reacting to Trump:
The Trump candidacy inspired the production and sale of Donald Trump piñatas (just a few days after his announcement), and Donald Trump masks were doing a brisk business in mid-October.
The Mexican video game company Karaokulta developed a game calledTrumpéalo, in which the player throws shoes, beer bottles and nopal cacti at Donald Trump.
Yes, Mexicans have always been very sensitive about criticism from abroad, specially from the United States. Mr Trump has pushed this to a new level.
Nevertheless, I have a lot of questions about what Mr. Trump is saying about Mexico.
Mr. Trump wants to build a fence on the border. Frankly, I'm OK with that, although it's hard to see how beneficial a border fence would be in the open and desolate areas of Arizona and Mexico. I would rather see a military presence in the open areas, because it is cartels, who use these routes. Also, let's remember that many illegal immigrants are simply flying in and overstaying their tourist visas.
Mr. Trump also wants Mexico to pay for the fence. It is one of his most popular lines. Unfortunately, he has not explained how exactly Mexico will do that.
A Trump supporter told me recently that he plans to tax "remittances," currently about $25 billion. How do you determine whether Jose sending money to his mother is illegal or not? My point is that there are a lot of Mexicans here legally who send money to their families. Is Western Union going to be requiring documents before wiring money? Is 7-11 going to require documents when someone buys a $100 pre-paid Visa? My point is that this is very difficult to do.
Mr. Trump is talking about "Mexico ripping off the U.S.," another popular line. Where is that happening? According to the latest info available, U.S.-Mexico trade is rather substantial:
The United States is Mexico’s largest trading partner, buying 77.5% of Mexican exports in 2012. Total U.S. goods trade with Mexico equaled USD 493 billion in 2012; 7% more than in 2011. Mexico exports more to the United States in goods and services in just over a month than it does in one year to the 27 countries of the European Union.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. goods exports to Mexico were USD 216 billion in 2012, up 9% compared to 2011 and 31.9% from 2010. U.S. goods imports from Mexico in 2012 accounted for USD 277.5 billion, an increase of 5% over 2011 and 20% since 2010.
I see a lot of business. I don't see anybody getting ripped off. I don't hear exporters to Mexico, or the people working in those companies, complaining about it. On the contrary, they are looking for people who speak Spanish to service their customers south of the border.
Mr. Trump touches a nerve when he talks about U.S. companies moving to Mexico. However, you can fix that by making the U.S. more attractive to manufacturing rather getting into a trade war with Mexico.
Last, but not least, our trade relationship with Mexico is in the context of NAFTA. Is Mr. Trump calling for a renegotiation of NAFTA? Remember what happened to Senator Obama when he suggested that in 2008? His calls for renegotiating NAFTA stopped when someone whispered in his ear that the "NA" in NAFTA means North America, such as Canada.
Sorry, but Mr Trump needs to get more specific. So far, I hear good campaign lines but not much more.