After numerous Mexican leaders publicly rejected the idea of their country paying for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s border wall between Mexico and the United States, Mexico’s foreign minister weighed in on the debate.
“Well, that’s absurd. We would never consider that,” said Mexican foreign minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu in an interview with ABC News.
Since throwing his hat in the ring, Donald Trump’s name has practically become synonymous with the giant border wall he proposes to have constructed if elected. Though Trump’s proposal to build a border wall is far from original, he stunned many the first time he insisted his administration would make Mexico pay for the wall’s construction.
Following the argument other Mexican leaders have made against taking part in building Trump’s proposed border wall, Ruiz Massieu expounded upon how such a deal would stymie trade on each side of the border, ultimately harming both countries in the process.
A few days earlier, the foreign minister also discussed the matter with Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg Radio, again referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and how the two nations could prosper from it by strengthening their trade relationship created by the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“We’re in the business of creating prosperity, creating jobs, creating more investment to detonate more opportunities for our people, as are most governments in the world,” said Ruiz Massieu. “The way to do that is to go further with more integration, more integrated chains of value, and remaining more competitive.”
Alongside his famous border wall speeches, Donald Trump has gone on record multiple times as a critic of NAFTA, and has even suggested putting a 35 percent tariff on products manufactured in Mexico, arguing it would discourage U.S. companies from outsourcing their operations there, ideally creating more jobs on the U.S. side of the border.
Mexican leaders have answered Trumps proposals with statistics, economic theories, and in some cases expletives, most famously from former president Vicente Fox, who conveyed in an impassioned harangue to Jorge Ramos on Fusion that he wouldn’t “pay for that f***ing wall.”
Like current president Enrique Peña Nieto and foreign minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu, however, Fox also emphasized the importance of free trade between the big three North American countries: Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
“The U.S. cannot compete by itself against others,” said Fox to Ben Mathis of Kick**s News. “If Trump says, ‘let’s enclose by ourselves, let’s build walls and then impose heavy taxation to imports,’ he’s going to asfhixiar(asphyxiate) the U.S. economy.”
Many American economists agree with the Mexican leaders’ gloom assessment of Donald Trump’s proposed economic isolationism. According to a report by CNNMoney, economists predict high tariffs such as those advocated by the Trump campaign would reduce competition for U.S. companies, thus taking away incentives to keep their prices lower. Researchers at the National Foundation for American Policy predict prices of American manufactured goods could rise by as much as 11 percent under Trump’s plan.
Brandeis University economics professor Peter Petri also argued that Trump’s proposed tariffs could hurt U.S. companies that specialize in exports, which he estimates pay an average of 18 percent higher wages to their workers than U.S.-based manufacturers that do not export. U.S.-based exporters would suffer, according to Petri, because tariffs would hinder the U.S. from importing goods from other countries, thus leaving these countries with fewer financial resources to, in turn, import from the U.S. or may even incite these countries to impose their own set of tariffs in an act of retaliation.
“It would increase jobs not done in America today because they pay too little, but decrease export-oriented jobs with higher wages,” said Petri. “We’ll put shackles on our most competitive industries.”
However, even given the poor reception of Trump’s plans, the Mexican foreign minister clarified to ABC that her government would still be willing to negotiate with him should he win the presidency.
“Mexico and the United States have such a strong and intertwined relationship that’s multidimensional, that involves so many actors at so many different levels,” said Ruiz Massieu. “It really transcends any political juncture and any one person.”
Whether or not a Trump border wall is strong enough to separate these actors remains to be seen.
[Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]