Business leaders in Mexico have warned against protectionism in North America amidst posturing from President Donald Trump to build a border wall and renegotiate NAFTA. Laura Frykberg reports
Business meetings don't always get this much attention. But this one was in Mexico which has been feeling the full force of President Trump's new approach. Much of the talk was of border walls and trade. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRESIDENT OF THE COORDINATING BUSINESS COUNCIL, JUAN PABLO CASTANON, SAYING: "Leaving the free trade agreement goes against the principles that Mexico has promoted over the last 25 to 30 years - free trade is the model Mexico wants for its development and prosperity." Annual trade between the U.S. and Mexico is worth more than $580 billion dollars. And any tariffs and protectionism could costs thousands of jobs. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRESIDENT OF THE MEXICAN AMERICAN CHAMBER, JOSE MARIA ZAS, SAYING: "The North American region has been the biggest loser in global trade in the last 20 years. The biggest winner is China. We believe a strategic alliance between Mexico and the United States is the best way to compete with China." But working together may not be easy. Trump has referred to Mexican migrants as criminals and rapists. And tourist officials fear the war of words could damage another important sector. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRESIDENT OF THE CONFEDERATION OF NATIONAL CHAMBERS OF TRADE, SERVICES AND TOURISM, ENRIQUE SOLANA, SAYING: "We need to carry out a campaign so that Mexicans are warm and hospitable and welcome American visitors. We cannot allow xenophobia." Mexico's Government says a summit between the president and Trump is still on the cards. In the meantime, the two leaders have reportedly promised not to talk publicly about the border wall even if everyone else is.