The Padre Tembleque aqueduct, located between the Mexican states of Mexico and Hidalgo, in this May 28, 2012 file photo. The Padre Tembleque Aqueduct was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site on Sunday, July 5, 2015. (Xinhua/INAH/NOTIMEX)
The Padre Tembleque aqueduct, located between the Mexican states of Mexico and Hidalgo, in this May 28, 2012 file photo. The Padre Tembleque Aqueduct was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site on Sunday, July 5, 2015. (Xinhua/INAH/NOTIMEX)

U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday ushered in a new era in bilateral ties with Mexico, one that Mexico should turn to its advantage, say observers.

The real estate tycoon’s presidential campaign and election win only raised hackles in Mexico, given his pledge to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it, to press assembly plants there to relocate to the U.S. or face steep export tariffs, and to deport more than 2 million undocumented migrants.

But Mexico has “many advantages that it should make the most of” in redefining its relationship to its neighbor, political observer Jesus Gallegos told Xinhua in an interview.

Mexico “should establish different negotiations openly, seriously and completely in political, migratory, trade and economic matters,” said Gallegos, who teaches at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Trump’s insistence on renegotiating the two-decade-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed in 1994 between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada, is a case in point.

It will take at least a year and a half to change or dismantle the treaty, which hands Mexico ample time to play its cards right and “be more pragmatic, as there is a lack of comprehensive political, economic and social pragmatism, and not just on one side or the other,” said Gallegos.

According to a study by the Washington, D.C.-based Wilson Center, undoing NAFTA will be a step backward, since trade and export between the three will continue, but at a higher cost, which will harm their competitivity.

Arnulfo R. Gomez, a professor at Mexico City’s Anahuac University, believes the dark cloud Trump represents for Mexico has a silver lining.

“Initially, it (the Trump era) seems negative, but there is a very positive side to point out, as now Mexico must devise a strategy with realistic programs and public policies as part of a true national development project,” said Gomez.

Sam Lobo, head of International Affairs at Mexico’s Confederation of Employer’s (Coparmex), agrees, saying “problems are synonymous with opportunities.”

“It is impossible” to break the ties between the two interrelated neighbors, said Lobo, calling for “dialogue and to find synergies to benefit both,” said Lobo.

Reflecting that message, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday congratulated Trump via Twitter, and said, “we will work to strengthen our relationship with shared responsibility.”

As insurance against potentially stormy weather ahead, Mexico should take this opportunity to cultivate new trade partners in the Pacific Rim region, including China, Lobo recommended.

“Mexican business owners are open and willing to speak with Trump, but we are also willing to explore new businesses, to open up to new opportunities to make new friends,” said Lobo.

Mexico “could establish better synergy” with China, for example, through trade in a range of products, from agrifoods to apparel and “even technology,” he added.

An announcement earlier this month by U.S. automaker Ford, that it was cancelling plans for a new 1.6 billion U.S.-dollar plant in Mexico, has been widely cited as a sign of what’s in store for Mexico under Trump.

“Adjustments and changes cause instability and impact many people, but they also represent opportunities. Many automobile manufacturers are staying in Mexico despite these threats, and if one leaves, three others arrive,” said Lobo.

In the meantime, the International Monetary Fund downgraded Mexico’s economic growth forecast for 2017 and 2018 by 0.6 percent, citing stronger headwinds facing the country due to the uncertainties raised by the arrival of the new administration. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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