As America Turns Inward, Europe and Mexico Double Down on Trade

The European Union and Mexico accelerate trade talks at the same time as America turns its back on the world.

European trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Mexican economy secretary Ildefonso Guajardo deliver a joint news conference in Brussels, May 11, 2015
European trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Mexican economy secretary Ildefonso Guajardo deliver a joint news conference in Brussels, May 11, 2015 (European Commission)

The European Union and Mexico have committed to deepening their economies ties in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States.

In a statement released last week, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Mexican economy secretary Ildefonso Guajardo announced that they would hold talks in April and June to renew a 2000 trade agreement between the two sides.

The EU hopes to expand the trade deal to broaden property rights protection, lower tariffs and include public tenders as well as trade in energy products and raw materials.

Standing up

I suggesting here last week that updating the EU-Mexico trade agreement would be one way for Europe to reaffirm its belief in open borders and shared prosperity in the era of Trump.

Guajardo and Malmström recognized the pact is about more than economic benefits.

“Together, we are witnessing the worrying rise of protectionism around the world,” they said. “Side by side, as likeminded partners, we must now stand up for the idea of global, open cooperation.”

Making Mexico pay

Immediately after taking office, Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership, a proposed free-trade zone for East Asia and Latin America.

He has also vowed to make Mexico pay for a border wall, possibly in the form of tariffs (which would really be paid by American consumers), and raised the possibility of withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has been a huge boon to the Mexican economy since coming into force in 1994.

The EU is Mexico’s third largest trading partner after the United States and China. Trade in goods has more than doubled since the 2000 deal, to €53 billion in 2015.