The Economist Essay

13318 Words Nov 8th, 2013 54 Pages
Mexico and the United States
The rise of Mexico
In this special report
• • • • • • • • • From darkness, dawn »Señores, start your engines Bureaucrats and backhanders A glimmer of hope The gain before the pain Stretching the safety net The ebbing Mexican wave The other American dream The 31 banana republics Sources & acknowledgements Reprints

America needs to look again at its increasingly important neighbour
Nov 24th 2012 | from the print edition

NEXT week the leaders of North America’s two most populous countries are due to meet for a neighbourly chat in Washington, DC. The re-elected Barack Obama and Mexico’s president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto, have plenty to talk about: Mexico is
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China (with more than 60 mentions in the presidential debates) is by far the biggest source of America’s imports. But wages in Chinese factories have quintupled in the past ten years and the oil price has trebled, inducing manufacturers focused on the American market to set up closer to home. Mexico is already the world’s biggest exporter of flat-screen televisions, BlackBerrys and fridge-freezers, and is climbing up the rankings in cars, aerospace and more. On present trends, by 2018 America will import more from Mexico than from any other country. “Made in China” is giving way to “Hecho en México”. The doorway for those imports is a 2,000-mile border, the world’s busiest. Yet some American politicians are doing their best to block it, out of fear of being swamped by immigrants. They could hardly be more wrong. Fewer Mexicans now move to the United States than come back south. America’s fragile economy (with an unemployment rate nearly twice as high as Mexico’s) has dampened arrivals and hastened departures. Meanwhile, the make-up of Mexican migration is changing. North of the border, legal Mexican residents probably now outnumber undocumented ones. The human tide may turn along with the American economy, but the supply of potential border-hoppers has plunged: whereas in the 1960s the

average Mexican woman had seven children, she now has two. Within a decade Mexico’s fertility rate will fall below America’s. Undervaluing trade and

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