Amid Rising Tensions With US and Canada, Mexico’s AMLO Threatens to Boycott Upcoming North American Leaders’ Summit

“We are asking for respect.”

Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (aka AMLO) has warned Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau that he will not attend the upcoming North American Leaders Summit — the annual trilateral summit between the so-called “three amigos,” to be held in April in Quebec — if Mexico continues to be treated badly on a range of diplomatic and commercial fronts. His threat follows allegations by the US Drug Enforcement Agency, published in US and European media, that AMLO’s presidential campaigns of 2006 and 2018 had received funding from drug cartels.

“We are asking for respect, because we do not send Mexico’s intelligence agencies to investigate politicians in the United States, we do not do that,” said AMLO in his Wednesay morning press conference. “We do not send spies to China or Russia, we are not meddling in the United States, looking into which of the country’s arms manufacturers are financing which representatives and senators in that country.”

No Smoking Gun, Yet

So far, the allegations, drawn from DEA investigations in 2010 and 2018 that ended up going nowhere, allegedly in part due to political reasons, have lacked one key element: solid evidence. As I wrote a few weeks ago, that is not to say that AMLO himself or his government do not have close links with one or more of Mexico’s drug cartels. According to Anibal Hernandez, one of the journalists behind the “exposures,” insists they have incriminating evidence against AMLO; they are just waiting for the right moment to release it — presumably when it will do most damage to his party’s electoral campaign.

So far, however, there is no smoking gun; instead, all the articles appear to prove is that the DEA, which has been locked in a power struggle with AMLO government ever since he clipped the agency’s wings, including by stripping its agents of diplomatic immunity, in his 2020 security reforms, is determined to shape the outcome of Mexico’s election in such a way that either AMLO’s party, Morena, is defeated (highly unlikely given the paucity of credible opposition candidates and the stubbornly high levels of public support for AMLO) or, if elected, substantially weakened in the process.

There is almost certainly another motive at play, writes Carlos A. Pérez Ricart, a professor at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) and author of the book, Cien Años de Espias y Drogas: La Historia de los Agentes Anti-Narcóticos de los Estados Unidos en Mexico (100 Years of Spies and Drugs: The History of US Anti-Narcotic Agents in Mexico) — institutional self-preservation:

In both the stories of ProPublicaInSight Crime and Deutsche Welle, as well as that of The New York Times, I discern an accusation by the DEA of high-ranking Washington politicians. The meaning is unequivocal and can be summarised as follows: for “political” or “diplomatic” reasons, DEA agents cannot carry out the work for which they are mandated. The texts suggest a justification for the agency’s failures and an attempt to push political responsibility [for those failures] upwards…

In both cases the narrative is the same: the blame lies with the upper echelons of the US government, never with the anti-narcotics agency. The above must be understood in a context that is not necessarily clear in Mexico: the DEA is suffering from the greatest crisis of legitimacy in its history as a consequence of corruption cases within the agency… as well as its inability to stop the synthetic opioid crisis. Now, cornered by reality, the agency is trying to spread the blame as widely as possible and protect itself from the coming electoral cyclone in the United States.

A Rare Interview

In a rare interview, granted to the Spain-based Russian journalist Inna Afinogenova (who was the head of content for RT Spain until RT was banned from European networks and platforms), AMLO laid much of the blame for the scandal on Western media. Here’s a brief excerpt (you can watch the full exchange on the topic here, with English subtitles included):

AMLO: The right-wing in Mexico, and in the world, relies a lot on the media. It is fundamental for them. And that must be resisted, because the maxim of Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda, still holds. A lie that is repeated many times can become true, and that is what the owners of the means of, what I like to call manipulation rather than communication seek. That goes for the majority of media. There are some honourable exceptions in Mexico and abroad, because it is not just a matter of Mexico. Something just happened to us, for example.

IA: I was going to ask you about that, about the information that came out about the alleged narco financing in the 2006 campaign.

AMLO: Yes, a famous journalist came, awarded in the United States, from the NYT. Imagine, the NYT which remains a rag at the service of interest groups. And this man (Tim Golden), awarded twice with, what is the price called?

IA: Pullitzer. The most important one.

AMLO: The most important, yes. Well, the gentleman comes and makes a report which he headlines with question marks. “Did AMLO Receive Narco Support in 2006?” With question marks! Look how tricky, how cunning. What serious journalist can do that?

IA: Many do.

AMLO: No, but not a serious journalist. Well, it is part of the decadence of the noble profession of journalism

IA: Journalists who come out to say and endorse this information have prestige and are considered serious.

AMLO: Of course, they will have prestige if they serve the oligarchy a lot, the people who believe themselves to be the owner of the world. They are mere employees. That gentleman, with those awards, acted like a mercenary.

Now, AMLO is saying he will only attend the North American Leaders Summit if Mexico receives due respect from the US and Canada.

“If there is no respectful treatment, I will not participate (in the summit),” he said when asked about his attendance at the trilateral meeting, scheduled for April in Quebec City. “Also, I only have seven months left (of my mandate) and I do not like to travel much.” .

AMLO is angry not just at the DEA’s flagrant interference in Mexico’s electoral process, facilitated by some of the same media organisations that spent years decrying and embellishing Russia’s much less obvious meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections, but about a host of other issues. They include the Canadian government’s recent decision to reinstate certain visa requirements for Mexicans amid a surge in asylum applications as well as threats from Washington to reimpose tariffs on imports of Mexican steel.

Washington alleges that China is using Mexico as an intermediary to supply its products to the US market. The allegations have elicited a strong denial from Mexico’s Economy Minister Raquel Buenrostro as well as a warning of potential retaliatory actions if the tariffs are levied. From Reuters:

“Imposing tariffs on steel is not convenient for either the United States or Mexico, because if there were tariffs, they would be impacted the most, given their larger presence in the market,” Buenrostro said.

Mexico’s share in the U.S. steel market stood at around 2.5% last year, while the U.S. presence in the Mexican market was about 14%, she noted.

Mexico in recent months has used tariffs to target steel imports from China, which has been accused of selling surplus steel abroad at below-market prices, a practice known as dumping.

A High-Stakes Gamble

It is a high-stakes game the US is playing. If Mexico were to retaliate by imposing 25% tariffs on US steel, as its economy minister has threatened, while lifting its tariffs on imports of Chinese steel, US steelmakers could suddenly find themselves priced out of Mexico’s market — and what’s more, at a time when the global steel sector is grappling with significant overcapacity, estimated at more than 674 million net tons per year, more than six times the total US steel market.

What’s more, Mexico’s relations between China, its second largest trade partner, appear to be on the up. AMLO held his first — and presumably last — meeting with Xi Jinping last November, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), in San Francisco.

A month later, Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Alicia Bárcena Ibarra visited Beijing, where she met with China’s Vice President Han Zheng; Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Secretary of Commerce, Wang Wentao. Under discussion was the evolution of bilateral trade and investment flows between the two countries. According to La Jornada, the meeting closed with a joint commitment to continue working together to identify potential areas of interest that benefit both countries and their respective populations.

Then, immediately following the publication of the DEA’s allegations against him in early February, AMLO held a two-and-a-half hour meeting with China’s ambassador to Mexico in which he expressed his gratitude to Beijing for its support during difficult times for the country, such as the  category 5 hurricane that devastated Acapulco in late October as well as all the material aid Beijing sent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

China’s economic footprint in Mexico is also growing. As we reported last May, Chinese companies are taking advantage of the United States’ nearshoring strategy by setting up shop in Mexico, which more or less defies the purpose of the US’ nearshoring strategy. Chinese automakers are also rapidly increasing their influence in Mexico’s automotive sector, having gained a 20% market in Mexican car sales by the first half of 2023 and with companies such as BYD, Geely, Jetour, and Chirey expressing an interest in relocating production to Mexico, with an apparent view to capitalising on export opportunities not only in Latin America but also toward the US.

In response to this trend, a U.S. manufacturing advocacy group is lobbying Washington to block the imports of low-cost Chinese autos and parts to the country, Reuters reports:

“The introduction of cheap Chinese autos – which are so inexpensive because they are backed with the power and funding of the Chinese government – to the American market could end up being an extinction-level event for the U.S. auto sector,” the Alliance for American Manufacturing said in a report

The group argues the United States should work to prevent automobiles and parts manufactured in Mexico by companies headquartered in China from benefiting from a North American free trade agreement. “The commercial backdoor left open to Chinese auto imports should be shut before it causes mass plant closures and job losses in the United States,” the report said.

Constitutional Protections for Mexico’s Native Corn?

One other source of friction between the US and Mexico is, of course, GM corn. Some even suggest that the Biden Administration’s threat to reimpose Trump-era tariffs on Mexican steel is merely the latest escalation in the years-long conflict over the AMLO government’s ongoing desire to ban all imports of GMO corn for human consumption. As all three North American countries (Canada joined the despite despite not exporting corn to Mexico) await the outcome of the dispute resolution process triggered by the US, the AMLO government is talking of introducing amendments to Mexico’s constitution to protect native maize varieties, designating them as objects of “national heritage.”

As for the dispute over Mexico’s commitment to energy independence, the issues have all apparently been resolved even as the AMLO government just finalised its purchase of 13 electricity plants from Spanish energy giant Iberdrola, giving the Mexican State just over 50% control of the electricity market. Three days ago, Buenrostro said at a press conference:

“In October (2023) we agreed that we were going to make a memorandum of understanding to scale down the consultation. A draft was prepared and they have had it since October; We have not received comments nor have they given us a meeting to follow up on any issues. We hope that it is not another of the things that pop up later, due to the elections. We have already concluded this issue.”

While AMLO is unlikely to follow through on his threat to boycott the North American Leaders’ Summit, given the potential ramifications of such a move just weeks before Mexico’s elections, the possibility cannot be fully discarded. He already boycotted the US-hosted 2022 Summit of Americas over the Biden government’s decision not to invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to the event, causing significant embarrassment to the Biden administration. As an op-ed in Al Jazeera noted at the time, Washington’s decision to exclude Cuba “was not based on the larger Americas reality” but was rather “a cynical sop to Florida’s powerful anti-Cuba lobby” in the upcoming US midterm elections.

Which just goes to show how short-term electoral considerations can undermine diplomatic and/or trade relations with key strategic partners. And more than ever, Mexico and the US’ strategic partnership matters, not just because they share the world’s busiest land border but also because they are, for the first time in 20 years, each other’s biggest trade partner. Last year, Mexico’s trade surplus with the US reached a whopping $151 billion (h/t John r fiore) and its economy is now bigger than Spain’s, Australia’s and South Korea’s. However, as their economic interdependency grows, relations between the US and Mexican governments — and their respective agencies — are growing increasingly fraught. With do-or-die elections looming on both sides of the border, 2024 promises to be a turbulent year.

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  1. john r fiore

    Dont go if u dont have to Andres…ur doing a great job. Mexico’s trade surplus with the US is now up to 152 billion…..

  2. The Rev Kev

    I can see few upsides but many downsides if AMLO decides to go to the North American Leaders Summit in Quebec next month. For a start, both Biden America and Trudeau Canada cannot be negotiated with. If AMLO went there, we would be constantly lectured, harangued and threatened by the two other powers about GM corn and other matters. But more to the point, he would be vulnerable to any booby traps that would be set up for him. Perhaps embarrassing major media headlines being published while he was there that would seek to discredit him. Maybe coached “journalists” who would ask him if he is still running in a major drug operation. He would never be able to get his side of the story in the media as it is so tightly controlled as we have seen with the Aaron Bushnell story. So what would be the point in going? Maybe instead he should ask the advice of the Russians how to bullet-proof his economy more while negotiating more contracts with the Chinese.

  3. timbers

    “Maybe coached “journalists” who would ask him if he is still running in a major drug operation.”

    AMLO could reply to such questions with his own, something like “Is the US and Canada still running a genocide operation in Gaza and Nasi revolution in Ukraine” and when will Biden and Trudeau be arrested for War Crimes, or maybe bring along some Mexican journalist to ask them, who can be just as rude and pushy as the West. But unlike the West, AMLO will not need to be delusional as the West because facts and reality would be his side.

    After that, AMLO won’t need to anguish over invitations again but will need to worry for his life.

    The West is so dirty I frequently find myself wanting to take a mental bath after reading some of the more depressing accounts of what’s going on in Gaza, Ukraine.

    Upon conclusion of this guest appearance – in final communique or whatever they do or not do – ALMO could announce Mexico will be requesting help from Russia just like Transnistria and invite Russian bases on Mexican soil.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I saw an example of a coached “journalist” about a year or two ago. There was a delegation from Oz that went over to New Zealand and in one session, this journalist basically asked why Prime Minister Arderne was on the Chinese payroll and why was she selling out New Zealand. It was rude, deliberately-biased and I have never heard a journalist here ask such a question of local politicians. But what really stood out was this so-called “journalist” himself. He was several inches taller than the other journalist, young, clean-cut and if you asked me what he looked like, I would have said an SAS soldier (special forces). Another instance was back in 2020 when a “reporter” asked Bernie Sanders as he just got off a plane why his campaign was funded by the Russians.

    2. Phenix

      Why would Mexico make such a a rash decision? Why would Putin even want to piss off my/our deranged leadership?

      I admire China’s economic plan but if the US can, China will get kicked out of Mexico. The US is too important to Mexico to allow China to undermine that economic relationship… this economic interdependence should increase as the US shortens supply chains.

      Yesterday’s article about land canals suggests that Mexico has a viable “land canal”…why not just call it a rail system…. that can integrate Southern Mexico with NAFTA.

      He should go to the meeting because the US and Mexican economies are highly interdependent. He should push against GM corn….there are non-GMO corn producers in the states that can expand and satisfy the Mexican market. This is actually something RFK Jr is great on….he has a podcast with farmers not too long ago talking about this topic.

      1. timbers

        Your are right. He should negotiate with US. Starting from the level that he is a drug dealer. That worked well for Russia after all. And China too.

  4. Pym of Nantucket

    The politics of drug trafficking are fraught with so much misdirection and, of course, propaganda. If the US and Canada have an explosion of street drugs while other countries don’t, you have to ask what is different in North America. Obviously it relates to Mexico. I think the most important questions are where the corrupt DEA cartel operatives are, and what has been the modus operandi to attempt to manipulate Mexico by using the DEA to infiltrate the cartels. I expect AMLO’s logic is, if there are cartels he wants them to be Mexican, and if the US has a drug demand problem, they should have the DEA stay at home and fix that. The very long history of US/CIA activity in the drug trade means you’re dealing with very experienced operators in the US.

    If drugs weren’t coming from Mexico they would come from somewhere else (remember Columbia and Afghanistan?). When the US launches a war on drugs abroad, they’re just trying to corner the market. The domestic devastation is a feature, not a bug.

  5. Carolinian

    Thanks for the report. Sounds like the hegemon is facing yet another threat on the multipolar front. At least we still have Canada to do our bidding and have never had to invade them as we once did Mexico. Oh wait…

    As for the auto threat, don’t all the US car companies have factories down there including the Japanese and Korean transplants? It’s where my car engine was made. It seems a bit hypocritical for those same manufacturers to now be complaining about the cheap imports they have been benefiting from.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      If you check the thesaurus for synonyms for “hypocrisy”, “rules based international order” is the first that comes up.

  6. James E Keenan

    “… the AMLO government’s ongoing desire to ban all imports of GM corn for human consultation.”

    That last word probably should have been “consumption.”

  7. CA

    The evident objective of New York Times reporting is to ruin AMLO, ruin Mexico’s governing political party and the presidential candidate leading in polls before the coming election:

    February 22, 2024

    U.S. Examined Allegations of Cartel Ties to Allies of Mexico’s President
    The inquiry examined accusations of potential links between drug traffickers and close confidants of the president while he governed the country.
    By Alan Feuer and Natalie Kitroeff

    March 1, 2024

    Why Mexico’s Ruling Party Candidate Is Already Dominating the Presidential Race
    Claudia Sheinbaum, a protégée of Mexico’s current president, holds a commanding lead in the polls. But to many in Mexico, she is still an enigma.
    By Simon Romero and Emiliano Rodríguez Mega

    1. JonnyJames

      That seems perfectly clear to me as well.

      Of course, it is the DEA/CIA/AFT who are the ones who work covertly with drugs cartels and gun runners in Mexico. The media is projecting the crimes of el Imperio onto Mexico – that seems to be standard procedure.

  8. JonnyJames

    On a gut personal level, if I were AMLO I would not be able to stand being in the same room with a man who showed up in blackface at a party, saluted a Nazi in Parliament, and supports authoritarian abuse of power, proxy wars, provoking war etc. or a man who supports and funds the genocide in Palestine, regime change, war crimes, murdering journalists, persecuting whistleblowers etc. But this is strictly business and dirty politics.

    Would AMLO dare talk about Mexico’s withdrawal from NAFTA? Can he prevent the flood of US GM corn into Mexico while still in NAFTA?

  9. spud

    AMLO is smart, he used tariffs to protect mexico’s sovereignty. that sovereignty is a results of the imperfect trump getting rid of the pestilence known as bill clintons free trade.

    trump gave them some of their sovereignty back, and independent unions and wages are rising, a no no under free trade.

    so the free traders want their plantation back.

    bill clintons nafta left mexico so traumatized and impoverished, that about the only way the average mexican could live, was to deal drugs, kidnap, murder or sell their bodies, a perfect free trade paradise.

    really mexico i am sure is looking at the rest of the world, and wondering why should they still be tied to a walking corpse.

    the free traders are now trying to stop china’s rise, to late, they were the dim wits that handed all of americas real wealth, to china on a silver platter for really really short term gains for a few.

    AMLO is being set up as the fall guy for the stupidity of the free traders.

  10. CA

    —- ——– nafta left mexico so traumatized and impoverished, that about the only way the average mexican could live, was to deal drugs, kidnap, murder or sell their bodies, a perfect free trade paradise.

    [ Sorry, but this is completely incorrect and terribly offensive. This is offensively stereotyping a people and there can be no need for this. ]

    1. CA

      As for NAFTA, which I would not have agreed to as such were I Mexican president in 1992. The problem with NAFTA was that while Mexican exports increased significantly the exports were low value-added or limited technology exports. Mexico was not learning to add technology to exports, and that limited Mexican growth.

      I can describe the technology problem in detail, if that will be helpful. Suffice for now, that Mexico needed a significantly higher level of domestic investment from 1992 on. But, that means national investment policy which was not favored then.

      1. spud

        what dribble “Mexico was not learning to add technology to exports, and that limited Mexican growth.”

        you sound just like bill clinton and paul krugman.

        actual reality,

        Did NAFTA Help Mexico? An Update After 23 Years
        March 2017, Mark Weisbrot, Lara Merling, Vitor Mello, Stephan Lefebvre, and Joseph Sammut
        En español

        This paper compares the performance of the Mexican economy with that of the rest of the region and with its own economic performance, over the 23 years since NAFTA took effect, based on the available economic and social indicators. Among the results, it finds that Mexico ranks 15th out of 20 Latin American countries in growth of real GDP per person, the most basic economic measure of living standards; Mexico’s poverty rate in 2014 was higher than the poverty rate of 1994; and real (inflation-adjusted) wages were almost the same in 2014 as in 1994.

        It also notes that if NAFTA had been successful in restoring Mexico’s pre-1980 growth rate — when developmentalist economic policies were the norm — Mexico today would be a high-income country, with income per person comparable to Western European countries. If not for Mexico’s long-term economic failure, including the 23 years since NAFTA, it is unlikely that immigration from Mexico would have become a major political issue in the United States, since relatively few Mexicans would seek to cross the border.

        This report updates a version released in February 2014.

      2. steppenwolf fetchit

        One other problem with NAFTA was that it de-protectionized the agriculture sector of all three countries.

        So lower priced fruits and vegetables from Mexico could be imported into America in order to drive American fruit and vegetable growers out of business.

        Meanwhile, lower priced corporate petrochemical GM corn from America could be imported into Mexico in order to bankrupt several million small-scale corn farmers in Mexico. The purpose of that deliberately-engineered mass farmicide was to drive those several million Mexican corn farmers off their farms and off their land altogether and all move north to a line of Maquiladoras which was envisioned along the Mexico side of the entire Mexico-US border. But then Clinton signed MFN for China and most of those Maquiladoras got built in China instead.

        So the Naftastinian economic exiles from Mexico had nowhere to go except even further north into the US itself.

        If Americans desire a number of illegal Mexican migrants to go back to Mexico, America might push for exempting agriculture from the forcey free-trade structures of NAFTA or NAFTA-lite as I suppose we have now, and push for all three countries re-protectionising their agriculture sectors.
        Mexico could totally ban US corn from entering Mexico and America could totally ban Mexico vegetables and fruits from entering America and each country could then rebuild its own agricultural rural economy and society without Free Trade intrusion.

          1. spud

            gee i wonder if it has anything to do with this,

            Mexican workers top the worldwide list in seeing the benefits of free trade.
            Annual hours worked

            1-Mexico / 2226 hours


            Mexico’s poverty rate in 2014 was higher than the poverty rate of 1994; and real (inflation-adjusted) wages were almost the same in 2014 as in 1994.

            yea a real success story. i have found that free traders can justify just about anything. what does that point to?

        1. spud

          yep, agreed, the most important thing you can do is to be able to feed yourself. just look at what bill clinton did to haiti with his quack free trade policies. he almost did it to asia to, lucky japan had a surplus of rice under protectionism which bill clinton publicly despised, or in the late 1990’s when Thailand which was, maybe still is, the rice bowl of asia had a drought and a lot of the rice crops failed. japan was able to help feed asia.

          lack of tariffs is starving haitians to death: Bill Clinton forced Haiti to reduce tariffs on U.S. rice, which allowed subsidized rice from this country to overwhelm the markets and put Haiti’s farmers out of business.

          same thing has happened to every country under nafta bill clintons free trade

          The United States has also undermined Haitians’ ability to provide for themselves in their own country. President Bill Clinton apologized in 2010 for forcing Haiti to reduce tariffs on U.S. rice, which allowed subsidized rice from this country to overwhelm the markets and put Haiti’s farmers out of business. The United States also imposed a development assistance embargo on Haiti in 2000, because it did not like the elected government’s progressive economic policies. When Haiti’s President Rene Préval tried to raise the country’s minimum wage to $5 a day in 2011, the United States forced him to cut it to $3 per day, about one-quarter of the minimum needed to support a small family.
          The Biden administration knows that it cannot reduce migration pressure at our border without addressing the root causes forcing people to flee their homes.

    2. spud

      —- ——– nafta left mexico so traumatized and impoverished, that about the only way the average mexican could live, was to deal drugs, kidnap, murder or sell their bodies, a perfect free trade paradise.

      [ Sorry, but this is completely incorrect and terribly offensive. This is offensively stereotyping a people and there can be no need for this. ]

      sorry that you cannot recognize what free trade did the mexico. there was no stereotyping, it was the actual facts.

      the actual offense to me is someone who defends free trade.

      bill clintons “NAFTA” was starving millions of mexicans to death, that is why illegal immigration to the U.S. exploded

      NAFTA Is Starving Mexico
      Free trade has starved Mexico and stuffed transnational corporations.
      By Laura Carlsen | October 20, 2011

      “Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) became the law of the land, millions of Mexicans have joined the ranks of the hungry. Malnutrition is highest among the country’s farm families, who used to produce enough food to feed the nation.

      As the blood-spattered violence of the drug war takes over the headlines, many Mexican men, women, and children confront the slow and silent violence of starvation. The latest reports show that the number of people living in “food poverty” (the inability to purchase the basic food basket) rose from 18 million in 2008 to 20 million by late 2010.

      About one-fifth of Mexican children currently suffer from malnutrition. An innovative measurement applied by the National Institute for Nutrition registers a daily count of 728,909 malnourished children under five for October 18, 2011. Government statistics report that 25 percent of the population does not have access to basic food.”

      “Since the 2008 food crisis, there has been a three percent rise in the population without adequate access to food. The number of children with malnutrition is 400,000 kids above the goal for this year. Newborns show the highest indices of malnutrition, indicating that the tragedy begins with maternal health.”

      “Mexican malnutrition has its roots in the way NAFTA and other neoliberal programs forced the nation to move away from producing its own basic foods to a “food security” model. “Food security” posits that a country is secure as long as it has sufficient income to import its food. It separates farm employment from food security and ignores unequal access to food within a country.

      The idea of food security based on market access comes directly from the main argument behind NAFTA of “comparative advantage.” Simply stated, economic efficiency dictates that each country should devote its productive capacity to what it does best and trade liberalization will guarantee access across borders.

      Under the theory of comparative advantage, most of Mexico was deemed unfit to produce its staple food crop, corn, since its yields were way below the average for its northern neighbor and trade partner. Therefore, Mexico should turn to corn imports and devote its land to crops where it supposedly had a comparative advantage, such as counter-seasonal and tropical fruits and vegetables.

      Sounds simple. Just pick up three million inefficient corn producers (and their families) and move them into manufacturing or assembly where their cheap labor constitutes a comparative advantage. The cultural and human consequences of declaring entire peasant and indigenous communities obsolete were not a concern in this equation.

      Seventeen years after NAFTA, some two million farmers have been forced off their land by low prices and the dismantling of government supports. They did not find jobs in industry. Instead most of them became part of a mass exodus as the number of Mexican migrants to the United States rose to half a million a year. In the first few years of NAFTA, corn imports tripled and the producer price fell by half.”

      “In post-NAFTA Mexico, 42 percent of the food consumed comes in from abroad. Before NAFTA, the country spent $1.8 billion dollars on food imports. It now spends a whopping $24 billion. In an interview, rural researcher Ernesto Ladrón de Guevara noted that in some basic foods, the dependency on imports is dramatic: 80 percent in rice, 95 percent in soybeans, 33 percent in beans, and 56 percent in wheat. The country is the world’s number-one importer in the world of powdered milk. NAFTA decimated Mexico’s once-thriving dairy sector, and the market takeover by transnational powdered milk is linked to the crisis in infant malnutrition.

      Mexico imports 33 percent of its consumption, a figure that belies the reliance on imports because the sheer volume of consumption is so large. Ladrón de Guevara stated that it has gone from importing around 250,000 tons before NAFTA to 13 million tons. Transnational traders often favor imports over national production because of the attractive credit arrangements offered by the United States, making it “a double business—importing corn and money.”

      The U.S. department of agriculture estimates that if current trends continue Mexico will acquire 80 percent of its food from other countries (mostly the United States). The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization calls a country food dependent when the cost of its imports exceeds 25 percent of total exports. Peasant farmer organizations have criticized the definition as ludicrous in an oil-producing country that nonetheless has seen serious erosion in its capacity to feed its people and guarantee access to basic foods for all.”

      “The corporate takeover of Mexico’s food system has led to the food and health catastrophe. Transnational food corporations not only import freely into Mexican food markets, they are now the producers, exporters, and importers all in one, operating inside the country.

      Since NAFTA, corporations have gobbled up human and natural resources on an almost unbelievable scale. Livestock production has moved from small farms for local markets to Tyson, Smithfield, and Pilgrims Pride. The massive use and contamination of water and land has led to health and environmental disasters across the country. Millions of jobs have been lost to concentration and industrialized farming methods.”

      “NAFTA and other FTAs give corporations the power to define what we eat, what we buy at the store, who will have a job and who won’t, and whether a village sustained by local food production will survive or witness the end of generations of livelihoods.”

      your someone that cites krugman, and relies on GDP as some sort of empirical evidence, i expect no less out of your type.

      starving masses means crime of all sorts. its inevitable, its happening here even as GDP rises. something you may not be able to comprehend.

  11. CA

    the free traders are now trying to stop china’s rise, to late, they were the dim wits that handed all of americas real wealth, to china on a silver platter for really really short term gains for a few.

    [ Sorry, but this makes no actual sense and there is no reason for such extreme language.

    China spent years and years to build a highly productive economy, and that economy was built by the Chinese and at the expense of no other country. Trade with China, which was actually quite slow to develop, became a significant benefit to trade partners from the beginning of opening to the range of partners. Trade with China grew because of the mutual benefit of countries.

    China built its own roads and rail lines and shipping and new vehicles, and power facilities, became food self-sufficient, is near to energy self-sufficiency…and on and on. Of course, trade has been helpful and is becoming more so, but building a high speed rail line through formerly land-locked Laos and having trade soar was no abuse.

    1. spud

      no sense is not recognizing that china does not free trade, that china does not let the markets rule them, and that their rise would have been way way slower, if bill clinton and his merry band of free traders, had not handed china 200 years of americas wealth.

      would china still be on the rise, of course, but at a much slower rate.

      it was so so obvious, when the chinese would open the ringing bell on wall street, and they got standing ovations from the pea brains on wall street.

      that was a monumental moment as to why china rose so fast, and you could see the chinese laughing all the way to the bank,

      these are just small examples.

  12. CA

    the free traders are now trying to stop china’s rise, to late, they were the dim wits that handed all of americas real wealth, to china on a silver platter for really really short term gains for a few.

    [ China, for instance, confronted American steel tariffs early in 2002 almost immediately after becoming a member of the WTO, and steel tariff have since been renewed so that China has a minimal share in steel production for America. However, China has lots of titanium and has just this year developed a highly effective method for printing titanium structures. Trade then means a titanium structure advance for America if America so decides. America, however, need buy no advanced titanium from China. ]

    1. Bruce F

      Hi CA,
      I appreciate your POV, as well as your persistence in pushing back — often with links — against anti-China rhetoric. At times you seem to go “too far”, but as I look back at my political evolution over the past decades, what I initially thought was wrong has often become my new world view.

      1. CA

        What a nice comment, I am grateful and appreciate you.

        This reminds me; I have to be careful to be able to reference what I assert, since that is always critical.

      2. spud

        i am again flabbergasted by how my stance on free trade is taken by others. its not anti chinese rhetoric, its anti free trade.

        how anyone can defend it today, with what we know, is beyond comprehension.

        Keeping Poor Countries Poor: The Absurdity of Free Trade

        under free trade corporations pay almost nothing to the poor, and malnutrition is common and spreading

        protectionism is the key to prosperity, other wise most of the profit ends up in the pockets of the rich

        now how can anyone think i am stereotyping the victims of free trade?

        1. steppenwolf fetchit

          The people who pretend to think you are stereotyping the victims of free trade don’t actually think so. They pretend to think so in order to accuse you of such stereotyping in order to trick you into being diverted from the actual subject in order to defend yourself against their bad-faith accusations. Their bad faith accusations of “stereotyping the victims of free trade” are a decoy velcro tarbaby they set up by the side of the road in order to trick you into getting stuck to it by engaging with it.

  13. CA

    March 1, 2024

    China-led team develops anti-fatigue 3D-printed titanium alloy

    A team of international scientists led by the Chinese experts has broken through the technological bottleneck caused by the poor fatigue properties of 3D-printed materials, and proposed an innovative strategy to fabricate an anti-fatigue titanium alloy via near void-free 3D printing.

    According to the study * published in the latest issue of academic journal Nature, the advantage of 3D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM) technology, had previously been severely compromised by the poor fatigue performance of 3D-printed materials under cyclic loading, which resulted from the presence of microvoids induced by prevailing printing process.

    To solve the problem, the research team under the leadership of Professor Zhang Zhefeng and Professor Zhang Zhenjun from the Institute of Metal Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, managed to successfully produce an approximate void-free Ti-6Al-4V titanium alloy by developing a new 3D-printing processing technique to regulate microstructure and defects separately.

    This new technique, known as Net-Additive Manufacturing Process, includes hot-isostatic pressing to eliminate the microvoids and subsequent high-temperature-short-time heat treatment to restore the AM microstructure with fine martensite lath, which can successfully restore a nearly void-free Net-AM microstructure to the titanium alloy….


    1. spud

      good for them. but america would do things like that before free trade. comparative advantage is junk economics. in fact, its not even a theory. america proved it, china has proven it.

  14. chuck roast

    “…at a time when the global steel sector is grappling with significant overcapacity, estimated at more than 674 million net tons per year…”

    I do not remember any period in my significantly long lifetime when the global steel sector was not grappling with significant overcapacity.

  15. Don

    I recently obtained Permanent Residency status in Mexico, own a home there, and am in the process of disentangling myself from Canada. Mexico is booming and workers are sharing in the benefits (minimum wage recently doubled and pension eligibly significantly expanded), governance functions at a much higher level than in Canada, and contrary to stereotypes, (barring a few quirky anomalies), things happen much more quickly and efficiently in Mexico. Where we live, there is far less poverty, chaos, crime and violence than in Canadian and the US cities, big and small. (This is not universally the case — I recently encountered a small, tidy tent community in a Mexico City park.)

    In Canada, the per capita GDP continues to plummet (ranked 6th behind Switzerland, Luxembourg, Norway, the United States and Denmark in 1981, now ranked 22nd), much of the working class is living precariously, housing is unaffordable, and everything is breaking down. Many, if not most Canadians, can’t decide if the downward spiral is the result of corruption, incompetence or both. The latest in a long series of scandals is the government’s infamously buggy covid ArriveCan app (AKA ArriveScam app); budgeted at ±$50,000, it came in at ±$60,000,000, and it has recently been revealed that the outsourced software providers have no software expertise — in fact they have no software developers on staff — all work was, sub-outsourced. It turns out that one two-person-working-from-home firm (along with its outsourced working-from-home-supplier) has billed the Canadian government ±$400,000,000 on this and other projects over the past few years, and it turns out that this firm’s part Indigenous (a Federal Government contracting requirement) principal has a side gig as a full-time employee of the Canadian Ministry of Defence, which, it turns out, was news to the Ministers responsible, collectively, for Procurement, the Public Service/The treasury Board, Border Services, Health, Indigenous Affairs — and Defence. Oh, and it turns out that this individual was on the consulting team that formulated the eligibility rules for mandated indigenous participation in contract outsourcing.

    No, AMLO should stay home.

    1. spud

      and why has the minimum wage doubled, and why does mexico now have independent trade unions?

      because trump dumped bill clintons free trade horror show, nafta, and sorta turned it into a treaty amongst nations. he helped restore mexico’s sovereignty, whick AMLO used to raise the minimum wage, and allow independent trade unions.

      next up under mexico’s restored sovereignty, “CORN”!

    2. CA,&s=NGDP_RPCH,PPPGDP,PPPPC,NID_NGDP,NGSD_NGDP,PCPIPCH,GGXWDG_NGDP,BCA_NGDPD,&sy=2017&ey=2022&ssm=0&scsm=1&scc=0&ssd=1&ssc=0&sic=0&sort=country&ds=.&br=1

      October 15, 2023

      Mexico, 1992-2023

      Mexico was the 12th largest country in terms of Real GDP in 2023

      Real GDP, percent change
      Real GDP
      Real per capita GDP
      Investment, percent of GDP
      Savings, percent of GDP
      Inflation rate, percent change
      General government gross debt, percent of GDP
      Current account balance, percent of GDP

      1. spud

        that’s after trump got rid of bill clintons horror show nafta. mexico no longer free trades with us, they have sovereignty now, and it shows. the trade is now under democratic control.

        geesh dealing wth fundys!!

  16. CA

    —- ——– nafta left mexico so traumatized and impoverished, that about the only way the average mexican could live, was to deal drugs, kidnap, murder or sell their bodies, a perfect free trade paradise.

    [ Falsely stereotyping and slandering an entire people is terribly hurtful and immoral. Pointing this out was morally necessary and I am entirely proud I had enough courage to do so for I feared a ferocious response when an apology was called for. ]

    1. spud

      no slander, point out what was the slander. however the crime wave was well linked to bill clintons free trade horror show nafta.

      trump is very popular in mexico these days.

      the real slander is trying to pin on me, something i never said.

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