Donald Trump was propelled into contention as a presidential candidate last year calling for construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico. Trump also drew headlines with an accusation that some who entered this country from Mexico were rapists.
Trump has made sealing the border a campaign issue, maintaining that Mexico will pay for his proposed wall while using machines made by U.S. companies like Caterpillar and John Deere to help build it.
“(Mexico) is not our friend, believe me… they’re killing us economically,” said Trump.
What Trump doesn’t talk about is that Mexico is this country’s third-largest trading partner, behind only China and Canada.
Mexico buys almost as many U.S. goods as the European Union while an estimated 5.9 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico.
We hear a lot about illegal immigrants but not about the more than 1 million legal border crossings that occur every day between Mexico and the United States. There are also over 1 million American citizens currently living in Mexico.
It’s probably worth noting that over 20 million U.S. citizens visit Mexico every year, making it this country’s top tourist destination. Over 14 million Mexican residents visit U.S. locations annually, spending an estimated $10.5 billion, according to the Department of State.
As director of the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship at Bradley University, Jim Foley, a frequent speaker on issues of international trade, estimates that he’s visited Mexico on business some 20 times.
Foley sees a relationship growing between the two countries. Foley said that of the 50 to 60 companies that he’s worked with that look at the Mexican market, only one or two are involved with manufacturing in Mexico.
“Most are selling products there — American-made products,” he said.
Mexico has been very responsive to American companies like Starbucks, Subway, Costco and Home Depot, said Foley.
As for security issues that are so often brought out, Foley said that when he was in Monterey, Mexico a year-and-a-half ago, “there was much more of a positive attitude than when I had been there five years before.”
While a number of U.S. companies have opened plants in Mexico to take advantage of lower wages paid employees, Foley said the rebirth of American manufacturing is no illusion.
“I’m seeing growing frustration with the challenges of overseas production as our own manufacturing techniques involve greater technology,” he said.