Image credits: Gage Skidmore
News Article

What Comes Next for Mexico and the US?

By Alessa Flores | Mon, 11/09/2020 - 17:50

On Nov. 7, Joe Biden preliminarily obtained the 270 electoral votes he needed to win the US presidency, with Senator Kamala Harris as his pick for the next Vice President. However, the transition from President Trump to Biden may not be fully straightforward as Trump did not concede victory and is challenging the results in some states by claiming electoral fraud. Because all-state recounts and court challenges may not be resolved before Dec. 8, the future of US-Mexico relations are still in a gray area.

Biden obtained 50.7 percent of the popular votes with more than 75 million, according to the Associated Press, while Trump won 46.6 percent of the popular vote with over 70 million votes. This points to a society very divided in political ideology. Due to the multiple ties that unite both countries, the relationship between Mexico and the US has always been complex. A NY Times article explains that "although most US voters have voted to remove Donald Trump from the White House, that does not mean they have voted for a relationship that is mutually beneficial between Mexico and the US, its neighbors and its strategic and commercial allies." 

During his administration, President Trump imposed tariffs to China that eventually escalated to a trade war between both countries, which favored Mexico’s position as a trade partner to the US. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stated that the tariffs imposed by the US on China bilaterally altered global competitiveness to the benefit of companies operating in other countries, such as Mexico. As bilateral trade between the US and China decreased, it was replaced by trade originating in other countries, including Mexico which once again became the US's largest trading partner.

The trade war between China and the US resulted in a significant gain for Mexico in terms of US market share, giving the Latin American country an additional US$4.6 billion per quarter, according to a note from Forbes Mexico. So, Biden's arrival to power and the way he conducts trade relations with China could also be a turning point for Mexico. 

Biden hopes to "relax" tensions between China and the US. According to the Global Times, Jin Canrong, Associate Dean of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, said Biden will usher in a "buffer period" for relations between China and the US. Relations may still deteriorate but not as quickly as before. "In the handling of foreign affairs, Biden will be more moderate and mature," Jin said.

Much remains to be defined regarding the bilateral relationship between both countries. Although Biden has not spoken specifically about Mexico, some of his proposals suggest potential changes to the US’ relationship with the country in the future. Biden voted in favor of USMCA because he sees it as "a better treaty than NAFTA," but noted that some bilateral agreements have not favored the US and need to be reviewed. In addition, the Biden Administration brings a "green economy" concept that is far from President López Obrador’s vision for Mexico. Biden has also promised to legalize marijuana throughout the US for medicinal use and leave recreational use on the hands of each state administration. All these elements bring potential changes to the relationship between Mexico and the US.

Photo by:   Gage Skidmore
Alessa Flores Alessa Flores Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst