The victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election of November 8, 2016 casts a dark, cold shadow over the relationship between the United States and Mexico. On one hand, Mr. Trump has expressed his opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which we support. Since entering into effect in 1994, this agreement has been implemented painstakingly through tremendous effort by all sides, and has built a trade relationship in which Mexico represented a market of US$267 billion for U.S. goods and services in 2015. Putting up barriers to the Mexican and Canadian markets for U.S. exporters for the presumed purpose of saving jobs in the United States risks destroying many of the jobs this trade has created.
But for Mexicans, the election of Mr. Trump cannot help but be seen as a deeply personal affront. Throughout the campaign, the U.S. President-elect repeatedly expressed disdain and derision toward Mexican immigrants in the United States, which many people in this country take as a personal insult to all Mexicans. Mr. Trump is a crass boor. But the fact that a majority of American voters validated his harshly worded opinions about Mexicans (not to mention Muslims, women and other people) sends a clear and chilling message to Mexico and to the world that the American people share these opinions and values. This stunning revelation will now hang like a toxic cloud over every business meeting, trade mission, trade show and even long-running relationships between business people in the two countries. We can only hope that the intelligence and personal grace of individual business people will help to buffer the damage the election of Donald Trump will do to the U.S.-Mexico relationship. But make no mistake, the resentment is deep, and this cannot be good for our economic and personal relations going forward.