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by Chris Dalby
MEXICO CITY， Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- No country appreciates being turned into a political punching bag.
Mexico has been systematically victimized by U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump， who has accused the country of sending rapists to the United States， is planning to build a border wall， and to stop remittances being sent to Mexico. These reasons have all made most Mexicans eager supporters of his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
However， the issue of free trade may become Mexico's largest concern in the presidential race of the United States， a country that has pioneered the global economic model.
Both candidates have openly spoken out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)， the world's largest free-trade agreement (FTAs) signed in 2015 between 12 countries， including Mexico， the United States， Australia and Japan.
For decades now， Mexico has made free trade a cornerstone of its economic and foreign agendas. It has more FTAs with 45 countries， the most of any nation in the world， and much of its economic development has come from rivaling the likes of China and Vietnam as a manufacturing destination.
Its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) treaty， signed with the U.S. and Canada in 1994， also anchored Mexico's competitiveness by being arguably the only developing economy in the world with such privileged access to these markets.
The unexpected body swerve away from free trade by both Clinton and Trump may well have Mexico spooked. At a one-day summit with President Barack Obama and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in June， this Mexican preoccupation was made clear.
In his address， Mexican President Enrique Pe？a Nieto said Mexico ""is now a country that jealously protects its macroeconomic strength.""
For Pe？a Nieto， this strength is based on free trade. ""The partnership Canada and Mexico have with the United States is on track to make North America a much more competitive and productive region.""
Trump's slogan ""Make America Great Again"" screams of cheap jingoism but it also strikes at a desire to bring jobs back and rebuild America's manufacturing heartland. Interviewed by CNN， Raul Benitez Manaut， a Mexican researcher on North America at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)， said ""NAFTA has been heavily criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike for two decades. No matter whether it is Clinton or Trump， it will surely be revised and updated.""
""Trump has been very aggressive and put in doubt the future of the TPP， which involves Mexico，"" he said， adding that Clinton would probably be friendly toward free trade overall， as Presidents Barack Obama， George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have all been.
However， Benitez Manaut's confidence about this may not be certain. Clinton's track record indicates an openness toward free trade. Her husband was in office when NAFTA was signed and she also supported FTAs between the United States and Oman， Chile and Singapore while in the Senate.
Despite that， she has been markedly careful at towing a line between supporting the idea of free trade yet providing few specifics as to what pro-trade measures she would support.
In an interview with CBS in April， Clinton said that ""any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security. We have to do our part in making sure we have the capabilities and the skills to be competitive. It's got to be really a partnership between our business， our government， our workforce， the intellectual property that comes out of our universities， and we have to get back to a much more focused effort in my opinion to try to produce those capacities here at home so that we can be competitive in a global economy.""
There is no doubt that will play well with the American electorate but it was not what Mexico wanted to hear. Far from being content with simply assembling American cars or packaging pre-produced goods， Mexico is actually looking to move up the value chain.
The country produces over 130，000 engineers a year， many of whom aim to work for American companies. Ford has an R&D lab in Mexico， designing parts for the new Ford Fiesta， among others. Should policy arguments about free trade lead to protectionist policies being passed by Congress， such companies would face a very difficult time.
News website， Economia Hoy (Economy Today) speaks of the irony of how Trump ""has used NAFTA as cannon fodder""， promising protectionism and to ""eliminate any regulation which annihilates jobs"" while his free trade opposition would harm both the U.S. and Mexico.
However， American Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson said that she doubted any move away from FTA would actually materialize.
""We feel that trade between the two countries， worth 1.6 billion U.S. dollars a day， means that it is one thing to say we want to separate and another thing to actually do it. We are so integrated that I do not think it is possible to make any quick changes，"" said Jacobson in an August interview with Mexican daily， Excelsior.
For Jacobson， since NAFTA was signed over 20 years ago， all the administration share the understanding that this is a very important， fruitful relationship for the U.S.
In this， the ambassador is probably right. Presidential candidates might campaign in poetry but they must govern in prose when reality kicks in. Railing against free trade may play well in Rust Belt states， which have undoubtedly suffered from jobs being exported， but the U.. Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping Wholesale Hats Wholesale Jerseys China Free Shipping Wholesale NBA T-Shirts Wholesale Hoodie Wholesale Hats Wholesale NFL Hats Wholesale Shirts Cheap NBA Jerseys Wholesale Cheap Soccer Jerseys