Changes to NAFTA may hurt US more than Mexico, consultant warns

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File Photo Eduardo de la Tijera Coeto

Mexico City — U.S. companies would be hit harder than their Mexican counterparts if Donald Trump attempted to impose special import tariffs on plastic resins and finished goods from Mexico once in the White House, a leading industry consultant said Dec. 14.

In a 90-minute, Trump-related internet conference call, Eduardo de la Tijera Coeto said Mexico imported 71 percent of the $16 billion worth of resins and plastic products traded between the United States and Mexico from January through September 2016.

“Mexico’s exports to the United States totaled $4.7 billion [in that time] and some of those were from companies with U.S. capital,” he said adding, in Spanish:

“If tariffs on resins and plastic products from Mexico were imposed, Mexico would be justified in adopting similar measures and opening the Mexican market to products from other regions. U.S. companies would be worse hit.”

Mexico, he added, has free trade agreements with 60 countries, 21 of them in the Americas, compared to the United States’s 20 across the world. He believed it unlikely that Trump would make good on an election campaign promise and impose such tariffs.

A founding partner and CEO of Mexico City consulting company Grupo Texne, De la Tijera is a former president of Mexico’s plastics industry association Anipac (Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico AC).

The conference was titled The Trump Effect on Mexico’s Plastics Industry. De la Tijera went ahead with it, he said, after receiving numerous requests for his opinion on Trump’s threats to renegotiate or scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), expel millions of undocumented Mexican workers, build a wall on the United States’ southern border and stop Mexican workers wiring money from the United States to Mexico.

Turning threats into reality would be complicated and take a long time, said De la Tijera, who also emphasized Mexican experience in negotiating trade deals.

Anyway, he went on, NAFTA had not affected disposable personal income, corporate profits, unemployment rates and the level of bankruptcies in the U.S.

“It has benefited industry, workers and households,” he said. “To do away with NAFTA would affect all [of these sectors].”

But De la Tijera accepted that a revision of NAFTA is “almost inescapable” and he warned that Mexico’s plastics industry cannot leave it to the Mexican government alone to face up to the so-called Trump Effect.

“There will be an impact on several fronts, including plastics,” he said, urging the national industry to be pro-active and united.