Antonio Ortiz-Mena on U.S.-Mexico relations and trade deficits

Cutting the deficit by a third at the stroke of a pen? It sounds like a win for Mexico, which doesn’t really want to discuss deficits at all but does want to crack on with crafting a fast Nafta deal by the year-end before campaigning for its July 2018 presidential election gets under way. It also sounds like something eminently tweetable for Mr Trump, who is under pressure on a variety of fronts and has promised to revamp the “worst deal ever”, as he claims Nafta as it stands represents for the US.

But that assumes that Mr Trump would be satisfied by a skin-deep solution — and Antonio Ortiz Mena, another member of Mexico’s Nafta team in the 1990s, is dubious. The Trump administration has bought into the idea that "a trade deficit destroys jobs”, he says. “At the end of the day, this is a discussion really about jobs.”

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