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Mexico's presidential frontrunner Sheinbaum discusses Trump, migration

Maya Averbuch, Carolina Millan and Andrea Navarro, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s presidential frontrunner Claudia Sheinbaum is confident she’ll have a good relationship with Donald Trump should they both win their respective elections.

“We have very strong economic integration” with the U.S., she told Bloomberg News in an interview on the sidelines of a banking convention held in Acapulco, Mexico. “We’re now the principal trading partner, and that requires us to have a good relationship.” She said the same would apply to U.S. President Joe Biden if he wins re-election.

Sheinbaum, a former Mexico City mayor from the ruling Morena party, has positioned herself as a natural successor to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who surprised many by forging a bond with Trump despite his sometimes vicious rhetoric about Mexican immigrants. She holds a commanding lead of 58% of voting intention over opposition candidate Xochitl Galvez ahead of the June 2 election, according to Bloomberg’s Poll Tracker.

Here are the key takeaways from the conversation:

On migration

While Trump and Biden have both pushed for tougher restrictions on migration across the border with Mexico, Sheinbaum said the best way to keep people from leaving their homes is to cooperate on economic development. That’s a reflection of Lopez Obrador’s stance.

Biden has “said that people do not necessarily migrate for pleasure, but for economic or other reasons,” she said. So as long as people in Central America and other places want to leave for better opportunities, “the long-term vision is that there should be investment and support in those areas.”

She said she would press the argument that migration would naturally decline “if a part of what is destined to war investment in the US were destined to investment for peace.”

Sheinbaum said development — and specifically job creation — in Mexico’s southeast would help contain the flow of migration. “But ultimately, migrants want to go to the US,” she said.

On infrastructure

The candidate sees connectivity — “ports, highways, the increase of cargo rail, passenger rail, internet connectivity” — as the flagship project of her potential presidency.

That’s a somewhat different position from Lopez Obrador, who has invested heavily in big-ticket infrastructure projects like the Maya and Inter-Oceanic rail lines and a few airports.

 

“All these projects that allow us to connect, to enhance the development of investment and the relocation of companies, and well-being, will be something that will be a hallmark of our six-year term,” she said.

On the peso

Mexico’s currency was one of the world’s best-performing currencies last year and was on a similar trajectory in 2024 until the market’s flight to safety this month. Sheinbaum said the peso’s strength is due in large part to the central bank’s interest-rate policy. But she also credited Lopez Obrador’s economic policies.

“This has to do with the current economic model, which is a model based on financial stability, macroeconomic financial discipline and, at the same time, the potential for development in the domestic market,” she said.

Lopez Obrador’s minimum-wage increases and other social programs provide “a strength to the Mexican economy that many others do not have,” she said. The current president’s austerity during the pandemic, when other governments piled up debt to keep their economies churning, has also been a factor, she said.

She didn’t specify what she thought should be an adequate level for the peso.

On Pemex

The candidate expects Petroleos Mexicanos, the world’s most indebted oil producer, to refinance its bonds ahead of upcoming maturities in 2025.

“By necessity it has to be in 2025, because there is a maturity of part of the debt coming up in the next year, and we have to work on that,” she said. “Most likely the current Pemex CEO and the president are going to leave us with a long-term plan.”

Pemex’s fate is one of the greatest challenges Mexico’s next president will inherit, analysts and investors say. The company’s debt burden stands around $106 billion, including $6.8 billion due in 2025.


©2024 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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