Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Are People Aware of Mexico's Economic Impact?

John Hyatt, a former student who is now a business consultant in Mexico, pointed this Economist article out to me. It looks at the role of Canadian and Mexican lobbying in the United States to emphasize the impact of Trump's policies (e.g. tariffs) on their districts. Here is an eye-opening sentence:

Most American lawmakers are said to be surprised when told how much trade their district does across the Mexican and Canadian borders.
I would say this is hard to believe, but we should know better. This is Congress we're talking about. The magnitude of Mexico's economic impact on  the United States has been reported endlessly, but people still have a difficult time pinpointing how it affects the specific places they live. This is the same dynamic as immigration. Immigrants impact our lives in a direct but often invisible way that people either don't realize or don't want to realize.

A lot of this is old fashioned nativism. It simply does not occur to many people--including high elected officials--that they are dependent upon Mexicans for anything. Latin American lobbying is an understudied topic, but it is a critical part of Latin American foreign policy. Here is a news article back in 1993 during the NAFTA negotiations:
The Mexican government has unleashed the most expensive and elaborate foreign lobbying campaign ever undertaken here, hoping to ensure passage of the trade agreement it wants with the United States and Canada, a nonprofit research organization said Thursday.
So Mexico has been lobbying forever, yet its economic impact never fully sinks in. For Mexico, it is a constant (and unending) process of reminding people of what should be obvious.


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