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A controversial video from Mexico's new president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador emphasizes his plans to reduce inequality and downplays the value of tourism so far.
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Trade Talk

US Chamber, Companies Support USMCA

AMLO presents tourism ad that is more propaganda than promotion.


The US Chamber of Commerce and more than 200 companies and associations representing farmers and ranchers, manufacturers, service providers, and technology companies have launched the USMCA Coalition, which will advocate for US congressional approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

The pact faces an uphill battle, experts say (see USMCA: Uncertain Outlook). Meanwhile, Canada is threatening to not ratify it if U.S. President Donald Trump doesn't first remove steel and aluminum tariffs, The Globe and Mail reports.

The USMCA Coalition includes a who’s who of US and foreign multinationals, including automakers Toyota, General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler; manufacturing firms like Caterpillar, Johnson & Johnson and Owens-Illinois;  financial firms like Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, MasterCard; tech giants like Google, Microsoft, HP and  AT&T and  logistics firms like UPS and DHL. Companies like Cargill, General Electric and Chubb are also part of the new group.

“For American manufacturers, like Owens-Illinois, the seamless, cross-border trade that USMCA will guarantee is critical for American jobs and manufacturers’ ability to compete around the world,” Ryan Modlin, Vice President North American Government Affairs, from Owens-Illinois and coalition co-chair, said in a statement. The USMCA is not just a trade agreement, it is the foundation of our economic and broader relationship with two of our strongest allies that supports the manufacturing jobs of more than 2 million Americans, many at small- and medium-sized firms that depend upon this relationship.”

Similar statements in support of USMCA were made by co-chairs Cathy Van Way, Head of Government Relations, Cummins Inc; Devry Boughner Vorwerk, Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs, Cargill; Candi Wolff, Executive Vice President for Global Government Affairs at Citi; Shane Karr, Head of External Affairs, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – North America; Laura Lane, President for Global Public Affairs at UPS and Tom Glaser, Vice President, VF Corporation & President, Supply Chain.

“The United States, Mexico and Canada have been transformed by nearly 25 years of open agricultural trade, creating a level of economic integration that has made North America one of the world’s most competitive and successful trading blocs,” Vorwerk said. “We must ensure that the uncertainties that exist about the future of this vital relationship are removed, and passing USMCA is a critical step. We look forward to working with Congress to make this a reality.”

Over the coming weeks and months, the USMCA Coalition plans tol make the case for “expeditious passage” of the agreement to members of Congress, and it will work to educate the American public about the benefits of the new deal, it said.

Meanwhile, a second group support USMCA has also been formed, albeit with far fewer members. The Pass USMCA Coalition includes 12 members so far.  It is led by Trump’s former deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn, with honorary co-chairs Gary Locke (former US Secretary of Commerce under President Barack Obama) and Joseph Crowley (chair of the House Democratic Caucus from 2017 to 2019).


Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (popularly known as AMLO) has been harshly criticized for his decision to close tourism promotion offices abroad. Now, he is facing a fresh wave of criticism for an official Mexican tourism ad, which focuses more on AMLO’s plans to change Mexico rather than its tourism destinations.

ITAM economic professor Isaac Katz calls it “the worst tourism campaign ever designed.”

Mexico is by far the top tourism market in Latin America, typically accounting for a third of all tourist arrivals and some 20 percent of all receipts in the region, according to Latinvex and World Tourism Organization data.  However, the new AMLO ad clearly states that "data and figures sometimes distort reality."

Political analyst Denise Dresser calls it political propaganda.

"This video presenting the tourism strategy of the new government seems to be used to scare away tourists and indoctrinate followers," she says. "It does not present a plan; rather it makes political propaganda."

"It's mainly about AMLO's election and how he's going to "change the paradigm," "renew morality," "transform the life of the people" and end corruption," points out Wall Street Journal correspondent Robbie Whelan.  "A "new tourism model" is mentioned, but not explained."

After the controversy, AMLO ordered the ad pulled, but not because of the social inequality elements, but because it featured a scene where his Morena party logo is featured.

The decision to close the promotion offices and new ad comes after AMLO last fall decided to scrap the $13 billion international airport that was already a third finished, causing massive hits to capital markets, the peso and investor confidence. 

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