By Matt Trinder
MEXICAN workers may suffer if Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders wins November’s US presidential election, according to an ex-member of the Mexican government.
Raul Zepeda Gil, Director General of Legislative Affairs in the Treasury between July 2018 and August 2019, told Redaction Politics that Mr Sanders’s desire to rewrite the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) could hit the Mexican economy.
Mr Sanders has criticised USMCA and its predecessor the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for speeding up the flight of US manufacturing jobs to countries such as Mexico, which supplies approximately 16% of all parts used in US car production.
Mr Zepeda Gil said: “Under Mr Sanders’ conditions, reopening the negotiations, which the Mexican government has ruled out, would imply more restrictions on Mexicans.
“He wants to protect jobs in the United States, even though the reality is that the mechanisation of labour in the US has taken more jobs away from Americans than Mexicans have.”
Last month Mr Sanders told the Senate: “The truth is since Trump took office, over 170,000 American jobs have been shipped overseas.
“In my view we need to re-write this trade agreement to stop the outsourcing of American jobs.”
Although Mr Zepeda Gil said it was an “understandable” position to take, he added: “Mr Sanders wants to protect jobs in the US, and he has to respond to his socialist electoral base.
“But its socialism for the United States, not for everyone.”
If Mr Sanders wins the Democratic nomination and then the White House, Mr Zepeda Gil does see positives for migration policy, with Mr Trump still threatening crippling tariffs if Mexico does not adopt more draconian measures at the border.
He said: “We did our calculations in the ministry on the possible effects. A 5% tariff would stop the economy growing for a year and 10% would mean recession.
“15%-25% would mean the destruction of the economy of central Mexico, which has been the fastest growing region in the country.
“We wanted to develop a more human rights-based migrant policy, but we were compelled to do what Trump wanted, if not it would mean sacrificing Mexican jobs.
“The many things we couldn’t change were due to the United States and our relationship with them. But Mr Sanders would certainly be less aggressive towards Mexico.”
He would also be a progressive ally to left-wing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who won a landslide victory in the 2018 presidential election.
Mr Obrador quickly declared the “end of the politics of neoliberalism” in the country and has since raised the minimum wage and brought in labour reforms to democratise and strengthen trade unions.
Mr Zepeda Gil feels his apparent lack of coherent foreign policy has been disappointing, however, particularly in a region dominated by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Mr Trump’s controversial ally.
He explaine: “President Obrador is not keen on foreign policy and is yet to make an overseas trip as head of state which is very strange.
“When the newly elected left-wing President of Argentina, Alberto Fernandez, visited Mexico in November 2019 to talk about a progressive alliance, he found a President not very interested in what’s happening in the world.
“I think that’s unfortunate.”
Interestingly enough, Mr Sanders is polling phenomenally among Latino voters in America.
Ahead of Saturday’s Caucuses, he is polling at 66% among the ethnic group.
Raul Zepeda Gil was the Director General of Legislative Affairs in the Mexican Treasury between July 2018 and August 2019.
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