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Interview: Trump's anti-Mexico policies harmful to U.S. too, says expert

Xinhua, January 16, 2017 Adjust font size:

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's hostile policies towards Mexico will have a negative impact on the United States itself, according to a leading political observer.

Gustavo Vega, a professor at the Center for International Studies at the prestigious Colegio de Mexico, believes Trump's trade protectionism would harm U.S. economic interests that benefit from the integration of Mexican and U.S. businesses, especially in border states such as California.

He added that 600,000 jobs in those states depend on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed in 1994 between Mexico, the United States and Canada.

"It's very worrying. He doesn't realize he could create a truly serious situation," said Vega.

He said what causes particular concern is Trump's lethal cocktail of corporate and immigration policies, which could lead to a decrease in manufacturing investment in Mexico and fewer jobs.

Trump wants to build a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico, to keep out illegal migrants. He also threatened to levy heavy taxes on companies that operate plants in Mexico but export to north of the border.

Trump said last week that the United States will begin talks with Mexico on border wall immediately after he takes office on Jan. 20.

The border which Trump threatened to clamp down has traditionally served as a safety valve releasing social unrest in Mexico as the unemployed migrate northward in search of jobs, noted Vega.

One of Trump's demands has been to have Mexico pay for the proposed 3,200-km-long border wall, which experts estimate could cost some 26 billion U.S. dollars.

U.S. automaker Ford announced earlier this month it was canceling plans for a new 1.6 billion U.S.-dollar plant in Mexico, though it claimed the decision was unrelated to Trump's new policies.

"We could be negotiating agreements on legal migration, which is what they (Americans) want, but he is doing the exact opposite," Vega said.

"I hope that U.S. companies located here can make him and congressmen understand that what he is doing is crazy," said Vega.

In the past, conflicts in ties between the two interdependent nations have only backfired on both, he said.

In the 1970s, he said, the cancellation of a proposed gas pipeline from Mexico to Texas, due to a disagreement over the price of gas, caused Mexico to angrily adopt protectionist measures that eventually led to its 1982 debt crisis.

"We suffered because of a nationalist reaction, but so did the United States, because in the end immigration shot up," said Vega, who holds a doctorate degree from Yale University in the U.S. northeast.

In regard to Trump's policies, Vega said, "I think the Mexican government is going to have to take retaliatory measures -- at some point say 'as of now we are no longer participating in security (cooperation)' or the like -- to make him realize the repercussions can be serious for them as well."

"I would hope that they can make him understand that what he is doing goes against his own interests," said Vega. Endi