It came as a surprise when Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto invited Donald Trump this week to meet with him in Mexico City. But perhaps no one was more surprised than the Mexican people, many of whom were insulted that their president would welcome a man who has repeatedly disparaged Mexicans on the campaign trail.
During Peña Nieto’s speech on Wednesday afternoon, as he stood at a podium next to Trump, it became increasingly clear why he wanted to meet with the GOP nominee, despite the backlash he must have known would follow. Peña Nieto is terrified of a Trump presidency. The source of his fear isn’t the promised border wall (let alone having to pick up the tab for it) nor the consistent slandering of Mexicans’ character. Instead, he’s terrified that Trump will destroy Mexico’s economy. And there are two ways he easily could.
The first way, which is the most obvious one, is if Trump ended the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA. Trump has blamed trade deals with foreign countries for job losses and low wages in the United States, and has vowed to end or renegotiate them if elected president. NAFTA, which opened trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico in 1994, was the catalyst for future U.S. trade agreements around the world. Though economists have mixed views on the effects of NAFTA, it did provide American manufacturers with a cheap source of labor in the form of Mexico, while also creating a huge market for U.S. exports. Mexico bought about 16 percent of American exports last year, and Mexico is now the country’s third-largest trading partner.