México would take a hit if U.S. chooses austerity

If negotiations aimed at preventing the United States from making drastic budget cuts fail, the impact could be devastating to Mexico, America’s third-largest trading partner.

The U.S. and its southern neighbor had $500 billion worth of trade in goods and services last year, mostly in electrical machinery, vehicles and crude oil. Mexico exported $15.8 billion worth of agricultural products to the United States in 2011, making it the second-largest supplier of such goods.

If U.S. President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress fail to compromise on a deficit-cutting package of revenue increases and spending cuts, it could spark a recession, which could mean layoffs for some Mexican workers.

“While Mexico is doing relatively well economically, the country would take a hit if debt talks fail,” said Eduardo Garcia, with the Mexican financial Web site Sentido Común.

“Mexico’s economy would suffer quite a bit if the U.S. fails to reach an agreement and these automatic fiscal measures go into effect because Mexico is so integrated into the U.S. economy,” he said. Thirty percent of the Mexican economy is export-based and the U.S. consumes 80 percent of those products, he added.

The Mexican economy contracted more than 6 percent during the 2008-09 U.S. financial crisis. While Garcia does not foresee such a large problem this time, he said the impact of any U.S. austerity measures would likely be immediate.

“Economies now react very quickly to these fiscal policies that are implemented,” Garcia said. “So there’s no doubt that as soon as it happens Mexico will start feeling the pain and the Mexican government will probably have to implement a few extraordinary programs to contain the blow,” he said.

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