In a surprising turn-of-events on 8th November 2016, Donald J. Trump won the Presidential Election. Beating Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton with his 306 Electoral College votes. “Make America Great Again” has been Trump’s mantra from all the way from his campaign run to now. But has this populist, protectionist and nationalist rhetoric have served the United States well? According to last night’s speaker at the NZIIA seminar, Ambassador José Gerado Trasloheros Hernández (the Mexican Ambassador to New Zealand), the answer was obviously a resounding ‘No.’ With the Trump Administration’s controversial policies and its passing the 100-day mark, it was clear about the Ambassador’s answer and mentality.
During the seminar, according to him, the activities created by the Trump Administration, such as blocking actual and potential trade, its withdrawal from the TPP, looking to re-write NAFTA and among other policies, are more detrimental to the global economy as well as the U.S. economy. The ambassador warned us that if the U.S. continues with it current path, there may be a much more extreme form of the ‘Pink Tide’ in Latin America which began in the early 2000s.
For those who are not familiar with Ambassador Hernández, before joining the Foreign Ministry, the Ambassador studies in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, receiving a Masters in Economics; and in the United States, receiving a Ph. D. in Economics from Rutgers University. From 2009 to 2010, as a professor and researcher he was the Director of the Centre for Asia-Pacific and Latin American Business Studies, at the Monterrey Technological Institute’s Mexico City Campus. In the Ministry, he has been involved in a wide range of economics negotiations. In bilateral trade he was the Coordinator of the negotiations for the Mexico-Israel Free Trade Agreement (1999-2000), and for the Mexico-Japan Economic Partnership (2003-05). He was the Chief Negotiator for Rules of Origin and Customs Procedures in the Free Trade Agreements between Mexico and Costa Rica; Mexico and Bolivia; and Mexico, Columbia and Venezuela (1993-1995). He has been involved in multilateral trade negotiations, in NAFTA (as a member of the NAFTA Negotiating Team for the Market Access Chapters (1991-1992), and as the Mexican Coordinator for the negotiation of the Uniform Regulations for the Market Access, Rules of Origin and Customs Procedures chapters in 1993), APEC (as Chair of the APEC Senior Officials Meetings (2002)), and OECD (as the Coordinator of the OECD/Mexican Ministry for the Economy project for the Strengthening of the Regulatory Framework for Competitiveness (2007-2009). Outside Mexico he has held postings as Minister-Counselor for the Ministry of the Economy at the Mission to the OECD (2005-2007), and as the Consul-General in Sao Paulo, Brazil (2011-2016).
The seminar for the economy of the United States may have ended in the lecture hall, but the talk for global economy, and especially the New Zealand economy, had just begun. The insightful conversation with the Ambassador continued when the attendants and I all joined him for Dinner at Vivace; an Italian restaurant and bar on High Street, in close proximity to the hotel the Ambassador was staying at. During the course of the evening there was a huge emphasis on balance. Communism clearly kills innovation and entrepreneurial ideas, however crony capitalism is just as harmful. The ‘Nordic Model’ was labelled as the pinnacle of governance. The distinguished Ambassador warned all of us the threat of right-wing nationalism. If we are not vigilant, we may face some serious consequences.