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Trade, investing top issues in Mexico

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Bill Radke: President Obama is headed south today. He’ll go to Mexico on his way to a big summit in Trinidad and Tobago. From the Marketplace Americas desk in Miami, Dan Grech joins us. Dan, with all that the president has to do in this country, Mexico emerges as a priority. Why is that?

Dan Grech: There’s one simple reason: drug violence. There’ve been 10,000 murders in the last two years because of Mexico drug gangs, and a lot of that violence has started to spread across the border into the U.S. There’s another small issue that Obama needs to deal with, which is we’re in the middle of a trade war with Mexico right now. We agreed to allow Mexican truckers back in 1995 to drive into the U.S., and the teamsters’ union has blocked that ever since. So Mexico finally retaliated and put tariffs on 90 U.S. products.

Radke: And how is the American recession affecting Mexico and Latin America in general?

Grech: You know, Mexico’s economy has been crushed by the U.S. recession. They have seen a 30 percent devaluation of the peso as foreign investors flee Mexico, even though there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with their economy there.

Radke: OK so up next, as we said, the Summit of the Americas, the president travels to that tomorrow. What’s he hope to accomplish there?

Grech: Well sort of like in Mexico, the entireity of Latin America has felt a huge hit from the U.S. recession, and there’s a lot of resentment about this. These are countries that worked really hard in recent years — and at the U.S.’s urging — to fix their economies, to privatize, to make their banks work. They’ve done well, and the U.S. messed up, and Mexico and the rest of Latin America have felt it in the form of less foreign investment and huge devaluations. So President Obama does have a lot to answer for, though there is some hope that he’ll be able to bring a new tone to the relationship.

Radke: Dan Grech at the Marketplace Americas Desk in Miami. Thank you, Dan.

Grech: Thank you, Bill.

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