Now let’s talk about trade. Negotiators from the US, Canada, and Mexico are meeting in Mexico City this week for Round 7 of the heavyweight fight over the rewrite of NAFTA. It’s not the various stories coming out of the White House that matter most for the deal’s fate. It’s the looming July 1 presidential election in Mexico that might just change everything.
There’s a good chance Mexican voters will elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as president. AMLO doesn’t much care for Donald Trump, and he doesn’t care for NAFTA — though he knows he might have to live with both, and he’s been careful in his public comments. Those now at the bargaining table want a new deal done before the election gives AMLO a chance to complicate matters further.
Maybe the deal will be done before Mexico votes. Maybe it won’t, but an AMLO victory will focus minds on finishing things before he can be inaugurated president in December. Or maybe, AMLO becomes president, swaps out the entire Mexican negotiating team, says many things that make Trump mad, and the bargaining gets more complicated than ever.
A lot of people in all three countries want NAFTA to survive, but that guarantees nothing. Stay tuned.