The left-leaning 64-year old Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador “known as AMLO,” who represents the MORENA Party, won the Mexican presidential election on July 1, 2018. This victory comes after two unsuccessful presidential campaigns in 2006 and 2012. AMLO’s pledge to end corruption, reduce violence and decrease poverty resonated this time with Mexican voters. He will be sworn-in on December 1, 2018.
AMLO will be taking the helm of a country with a weakened economy facing slow growth, amid ongoing security issues. One of his primary challenges will be persuading foreign investors to continue investing in Mexico. To do this, he will need to foster an attractive business environment and yet balance any abrupt changes to the current economic policy. Mexico’s energy reform policies, if sustained, will continue to be a beacon for foreign investments in the oil and gas sector.
When he assumes the presidency later this year, AMLO may create a more uncertain atmosphere with respect to the prospect of concluding a modernized North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deal between Mexico, the United States and Canada. During his campaigning, AMLO said the he would not change Mexico’s current position in the NAFTA renegotiations. Mexico recently escalated tension with the United States by implementing retaliatory tariffs on several U.S. agricultural products in response to the Trump Administration’s Section 232 tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum products. Similar to U.S. President Donald Trump, AMLO advocated during his campaign that he would strive to ensure Mexico is a self-sufficient country with a strong economy based on its agricultural, automotive, and energy sectors, in addition to creating jobs.
Apart from seeking to reshape Mexico’s relationship with trade partners, AMLO has an ambitious agenda. This includes strengthening U.S.-Mexico relations on issues ranging from immigration to security to broader hemispheric matters.
It remains to be seen how President Trump and AMLO will interact in the context of the NAFTA talks, as well as broader bilateral issues. Shortly after his election, President Trump congratulated AMLO via a tweet, saying he looks forward to working together to the benefit both countries. AMLO reciprocated with a tweet thanking him. During a recent phone conversation, the leaders reportedly discussed the possibility of a new comprehensive NAFTA 2.0, one that could potentially generate employment in Mexico, decrease migration to the United States, and improve border security between the United States and Mexico.