A Great Wall for China

While President Trump appears to enjoy dominating the media headlines and dictating policy via Twitter, few outside Mexico will have paid much attention to the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto until this week.
For a President with a low popularity rating, the Trump attack on Mexico and the border between the two countries has provided a boost to Nieto’s popularity as he counters Trump’s verbal hostility by cancelling their upcoming meeting.
While you can see some of the logic in Trump’s desire to get cars aimed at US consumers built in the US not Mexico, the zeal to ‘build that wall’ and appease those against immigration – and make Mexico pay for it – seems overzealous.
Mexico is the US’s third largest trading partner so there is much at stake in the sabre-rattling, bullying tactics of the 45th US President.
Trump has also made a point of taking on the Chinese who should not be underestimated. After President Xi’s pro free trade speech at Davos, it is not beyond the obvious to think that China will be cosseting Mexico as part of its increased global influence. With a wall cost estimated at between $6-10 billion, a small amount by Chinese overseas expenditure experiences, you can see why China might be offering to pay for the wall – ‘one way or another’ – in exchange for any number of options but not least, increased influence on the US’s southern border.
It is early days in the Trump Presidency and he has a history of firing salvos to create a negotiating position to gain an advantage in shaping a deal. Taking on China may be a populist move but Trump does not hold all the ‘trump’ cards.

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