Balance of Power: Mexico Got the Short End of the Nafta Stick

Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Faces No-Confidence Vote

U.S. President Donald Trump gives the impression all of Nafta’s benefits have flowed south of the Rio Grande. Mexicans might beg to differ.

As Eric Martin and Nacha Cattan report, Mexico’s economic performance in the almost a quarter-century since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect has been dismal — growth has been less than half the developing-world average and about the same as the U.S. and Canada. Its faster population expansion means Mexicans on average earn less than their peers across the borders than before Nafta.

That’s fueled things Trump hates most: the flow of underpaid Mexican labor northwards and American factories the other way. No wonder, as Trump’s trade team tries to renegotiate the accord, the U.S. president is threatening to blow it up altogether. And now Mexico worries Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may be ready to cut a bilateral deal with Trump, excluding Mexico.

Mexicans will have a chance to express their view in presidential elections next year. The early front-runner, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, says he’ll usher in a new economic model — the question is what role Nafta would play in that, if any.

Trump has urged companies to build more auto assembly plants in the U.S., while also pushing for major changes to Nafta that the automakers oppose.
Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky

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And finally... Trump’s habit of nicknaming political adversaries collided with his tendency to veer off script yesterday when he referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” alongside three members of the Navajo tribe. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted the remark wasn’t meant as a racial slur. But the comment and its context — he was standing in front of a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, who led military attacks on Native Americans — drew ire from Native American groups.

Trump with Navajo “Code Talkers," who were recruited by the U.S. Marines during World War II to communicate in their native language and stymie Japanese code breakers. 
Photographer: Susan Walsh/AP

— With assistance by Kathleen Hunter, and Ben Holland

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