Mexican businessmen become an unexpected ally of Trump

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Fearful that Democrat Biden’s proposals will impact his sales and increase his taxes in the US, some Mexican executives support the reelection of the US president

Many Mexican businessmen today have a political stance that a few years ago was unthinkable: they want to see Donald Trump re-elected. Things have changed for the owners and directors of companies in the country since 2015, when the then American candidate made Mexico the sandbag at which he threw all his blows. He called the Mexican migrants “rapists,” undid the trade agreement that outlined how to do business between the two countries, and promised a border wall to end migration. His rhetoric fueled racist and anti-Latino attacks in the United States. Now, none of this matters as much as the commercial and business certainty that Trump forged for Mexican entrepreneurs in the four years of his administration, particularly in the energy, automotive and manufacturing sectors.

The North American Free Trade Agreement was renegotiated and the new agreement, the TMEC, was signed, under which the promotion of trade and, therefore, the economy is protected. Trump’s protectionist discourse is no longer directed at Mexico, but at China, an economy that, as an exporter, competes with Mexico. Meanwhile, his opponent in the election, Democrat Joe Biden, has launched his own protectionist initiative, which has Mexican corporations nervous.

“The business sector thinks that a re-election of Trump will give him continuity, stability and some predictability for the future,” says Lila Abed, political scientist and consultant. Abed, who supports the vote for Biden, claims to have “a very close relationship, very close with the business sector in Mexico”, but reserves the names of his clients, owners and managers of some of the largest companies in the country, to who advises on political matters. During this electoral campaign, Abed has also worked with the Confederation of Industrial Chambers (Concamin) as well as with the National Association of Independent Entrepreneurs (ANEI). “What the businessmen think is: ‘The TMEC has already passed, the legal regulatory framework has already been established, the rules are already clear’ and they do not want them to be changed,” he explains.

With some exceptions, the majority of these Mexican businessmen who support Trump’s reelection cannot vote in the elections of the neighboring country and the laws in the United States do not allow contributions or donations from foreigners to electoral campaigns, explains Larry Rubin, representative of the Republican Party in Mexico. “But what they can do, and what businessmen have been doing, is promoting the vote for Trump through their acquaintances, not employees, because yes, although in many cases it is not a violation of the law, no It is very ethical, “says Rubin on the phone from the Mexican capital. Mexico is the country with the highest number of nationals living in the United States with about 35 million Mexicans and Mexican Americans there.

“Many of them do vote and obviously have influence from their family and friends in Mexico,” says Rubin, “it is definitely a way to further push the grassroots and enthuse Latinos in different parts of the United States.”

Rubin manages a pro-Trump Mexican WhatsApp chat with 256 members, the maximum number for any group on the app. The forum, to which EL PAÍS had access, includes not only some little-known businessmen, but also journalists, consultants, politicians from the National Action Party and the PRI, employees of Concamin, among others. While not all members are active or openly share the opinions expressed there, conversations often revolve around how to attack Democratic candidates Biden and Kamala Harris on social media. “Why does Kamala hate TMEC?” Asks one user. “Kamala and the Democrats are sold out to the unions,” another responds. “With the fiscal schemes that Donald Trump has established, the Mexican economy will benefit from the American companies that will return to the USA,” says another member of the chat.

Users also promote accusing them among their contacts as “communists” and questioning the ethnic origin of Harris, the first black candidate for the vice presidency in the country’s history. In August, when the American basketball league canceled its games in support of the anti-racist movement Black Lives Matter, a user in the group opined about professional players: “Why don’t you go back to Africa?”

THE COUNTRY sought out two of the most important business blocs in Mexico, who refused to comment on the issue since, they assured, they do not take positions or comment on elections in Mexico or abroad.

“The pocket does not have nationalism,” says Ignacio Martínez, an expert economist at UNAM’s Laboratory of Commerce, Economy and Business (LACEN). Both Martínez and Abed agree that, in Mexico, the energy, automotive and manufacturing sectors are the that have a greater interest in a re-election of Trump, as well as the aerospace, electronics and telecommunications industries, adds Martínez, which operate as part of global value chains that supply our neighbor to the north.

Biden proposes to take up the “Buy American” initiative enacted by Barack Obama. “What Biden wants is to move the core of these supply chains to the United States. This is where companies based in Mexico or Mexican companies that are related to these segments of the production chain in the United States fear being affected, “explains Martínez Cortés.

On the other hand, Biden also promotes tax support to small and medium-sized companies, something that could affect large corporations that operate and sell their Mexican products in the United States, says Martínez Cortés. In his July 10 speech, Biden emphasized: “When the federal government spends taxpayer money, we should use it to buy American products and support American jobs.” This, for Mexican companies that employ nationals there and sell traditionally Mexican products, such as tortillas and sauces, or associated with a Latin American culture, is very worrying and could impact their sales.

“This speech makes Trump see as a champion of free trade,” says the specialist, “while Trump promotes what I call the ‘nationalization of globalization’, Biden would be promoting national production through trade protectionism. through fiscal preferences and not through the tariff preference that is already found in the trade agreements that the United States has. So under this aspect, we see a Biden more protectionist than Trump himself ”.

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