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The New NAFTA's Real Target? China

The Trump administration had more than America's commercial deficit with Mexico in mind when it demanded an overhaul of the 25-year-old North American trade deal.

The USMCA targets China's trading prowess, through arms such as the Yangshan Deepwater Port
The USMCA targets China's trading prowess, through arms such as the Yangshan Deepwater Port
Jorge López Areválo

TUXTLA GUTIÉRREZ — The recent evolution of foreign trade between Mexico and China is particularly relevant today in the context of China's entry into the North American market, the former NAFTA zone now renamed USMCA after a treaty overhaul.

Mexico and China are both emerging economies and important global actors, and trading relations between them are significant, both for their respective economic weights and for Mexico's proximity and close ties to the United States.

Since taking office in January 2017, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has shown hostility both to Mexico and China. It has repeatedly insisted on building a wall or fence on the Mexican border and initially denounced NAFTA as the "worst trade deal ever," threatening to ditch the treaty as it was.

After considerable negotiations, the treaty was eventually reformed — in itself a proof of the need for a deal, given the intensity of ties between the neighbors. The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has yet to be ratified by the legislatures of its three signatories.


The USMCA being signed on 30 November, 2018 — Photo: Ron Przysucha/Planet Pix/ZUMA

The United States managed to include in the new treaty Clause 32, directed at China, which allows withdrawal from the treaty if other signatories engage in trade with a "non-market" country. This would be the first international treaty that is explicitly adverse to China.

With his insistence on building a southern wall and moves to curb trade with China, Trump has effectively launched an offensive against his country's most important trading partners. China is a key trading partner to all three NAFTA members and while in theory the removal of barriers inside a trading block like NAFTA makes internal trade more efficient and attractive, existing figures show that the United States has lost some market share in Mexico to China. Mexico too has lost some of its Canadian and U.S. market shares to Chinese exporters.

As a preeminent actor in global trade in recent years, China has been winning ground in the NAFTA zone without even the need for a trade agreement. Figures from UN Comtrade for 2017 show Mexico's considerable trade deficit with China, which has become its second supplier of goods behind the United States —historically in the first position. Mexico exported just over $6.7 billions worth of goods and services to China that year, and imported over $74 billion.

U.S. imports and exports for 2017 showed a similar pattern with China, and to a lesser extent with Mexico: its trade deficit with China was of $396 billion, and with Mexico close to $74 billion. Such figures help clarify both the changes made to NAFTA and how China has penetrated this massive market, principally as a supplier. And one would expect this expansion to continue, in spite of USMCA's Clause 32.

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Shame On The García Márquez Heirs — Cashing In On The "Scraps" Of A Legend

A decision to publish a sketchy manuscript as a posthumous novel by the late Gabriel García Márquez would have horrified Colombia's Nobel laureate, given his painstaking devotion to the precision of the written word.

Photo of a window with a sticker of the face of Gabriel Garcia Marquez with butterfly notes at Guadalajara's International Book Fair.

Poster of Gabriel Garcia Marquez at Guadalajara's International Book Fair.

Juan David Torres Duarte


BOGOTÁ — When a writer dies, there are several ways of administering the literary estate, depending on the ambitions of the heirs. One is to exercise a millimetric check on any use or edition of the author's works, in the manner of James Joyce's nephew, Stephen, who inherited his literary rights. He refused to let even academic papers quote from Joyce's landmark novel, Ulysses.

Or, you continue to publish the works, making small additions to their corpus, as with Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett and Clarice Lispector, or none at all, which will probably happen with Milan Kundera and Cormac McCarthy.

Another way is to seek out every scrap of paper the author left and every little word that was jotted down — on a piece of cloth, say — and drip-feed them to publishers every two to three years with great pomp and publicity, to revive the writer's renown.

This has happened with the Argentine Julio Cortázar (who seems to have sold more books dead than alive), the French author Albert Camus (now with 200 volumes of personal and unfinished works) and with the Chilean author Roberto Bolaño. The latter's posthumous oeuvre is so abundant I am starting to wonder if his heirs haven't hired a ghost writer — typing and smoking away in some bedsit in Barcelona — to churn out "newly discovered" works.

Which group, I wonder, will our late, great novelist Gabriel García Márquez fit into?

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