Asia and the Americas

A Section of the Latin American Studies Association

The China Factor in Mexico-U.S. Relations (in collaboration with the UC-Berkeley Center for Latin American Studies)

May 22, 2012

This “pre-conference” workshop, supported by Open Society Foundations, the University of Toronto, the University of Sydney China Studies Center, and the UNAM Center for China-Mexico Studies, will examine key challenges facing Mexico-U.S. relations in light of China’s rise. Participants will discuss emerging tensions and policy approaches to trilateral engagement in two panels:

9.00-9.15 Arrival and coffee

9.15-9.30 Welcoming words

9.30-12.00 Session 1: Trade. Yang Zhimin (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Rafael Fernandez de Castro (ITAM), Ralph Watkins (USITC), Enrique Dussel Peters (Cechimex/UNAM), Discussant: Juan Carlos Moreno-Brid (ECLAC).

In 2010, Mexico recorded a $93 billion merchandise trade surplus with the United States, a $41 billion trade deficit with China, and a $3.3 billion trade deficit with the world overall. Critics of NAFTA argue that overdependence on exports to the United States has impeded industrial innovation in Mexico and prevented Mexican authorities (public and private) from formulating coherent policies toward China. This panel examines how China’s international trade and investment strategies are influencing Mexico’s position in global production networks, how this is impacting U.S.-Mexico economic cooperation, and whether NAFTA may offer much-needed opportunities for improved trilateral engagement.

13.30-16.00 Session 2: Policy. Harley Shaiken (UC-Berkeley), Jiang Shixue (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), Wu Chunsi (Shanghai Institute of International Studies), Ping Wang (Nankai University Center for Latin American Studies), Discussant: Adrian H. Hearn (China Studies Centre, University of Sydney).

As China’s trade and investment relations with the United States intensify, Mexico’s advances, mistakes, and prospects in raising tariffs and building a “strategic partnership” with China may harbor useful lessons. U.S. policymakers may also draw lessons from the difficulties of their Mexican counterparts in stemming the inflow of Chinese contraband, including via the United States. Is there any substance to recent media reports that this phenomenon is linked to the trafficking of arms into Mexico, and of drugs and people to the United States? What are the policy options in this triangular relationship in terms of NAFTA institutions, the IMF, the G20 and other international forums? How is the issue of China’s growing impact entering into the 2012 presidential debates in the US and Mexico? What steps is the Chinese central government taking to reduce political frictions with the US and Mexico?

More details will appear on this website and in LASA Forum.  For further details, contact the Section Co-Chairs: Adrian H. Hearn ( and Enrique Dussel Peters (