The writer, a former mexican deputy finance minister, is a senior fellow using brookings institution

When mexicos president andrs manuel lpez obrador came across us president donald trump in washington last week, politics and bilateral relations had been undoubtedly inside spotlight. the fundamental reason for the check out ended up being economic: to celebrate the signing regarding the us-mexico-canada arrangement on trade basically a renewed united states free trade agreement (just under a brand new title, comme il faut).

This trade arrangement presents 1 of 2 strategic wagers that mexico first made practically three decades ago and which, jointly considered, have failed. for all his talk of national revival and historic transformation, they are going to fail under mr lpez obrador too.

Consider these wagers subsequently. initial ended up being mexicos remarkable decision in the mid-1990s to finish years of protectionism and incorporate in to the globe economic climate. its centrepiece was nafta, an ambitious treaty addressing trade, investment, dispute settlement as well as other terms meant to offer long-term certainty concerning the rules of this game.

In a few ways, the bet had been an amazing success. these days, mexico exports more manufactured products compared to remainder of latin the united states blended. however, this failed to result in quicker development. over the last two-and-a-half decades, per capita growth averaged less than 1 per cent a year, definately not what is required to build a booming community. its one of the reasons the reason why mr lpez obrador swept to electoral success in 2018.

Why did this wager fail, though? poor macroeconomic administration wasn't the culprit. nor had been inadequate person money or reasonable financial investment; here the countrys overall performance is about regional averages. mexico grew gradually because productivity stagnated in large component due to its 2nd wager.

This wager had been placed alongside nafta and its own aim would be to lower impoverishment and inequality. this would be carried out by making intact mexicos out-of-date and dysfunctional income tax, labour and social insurance regulations, plus its institutions for agreement administration. instead, social addition could be pursued through an ad hoc mix of additional retirement, wellness, childcare, housing and poverty programs.

The idea was that allows the fruits of quicker development to-be shared more similarly. but quicker growth never ever arrived.

The reason why? think about the mexican economy to be pulled in two reverse guidelines. on one side, nafta and opportunities in human being money worked to improve output. on the other side, complex labour, tax, and personal insurance coverage laws, in conjunction with poor agreement enforcement, worked towards reduced efficiency. notably like penelope in homers odyssey, this unknitted at night time what initial knitted throughout the day.

Mr lpez obrador features, basically, made those two bets again. he has only celebrated with mr trump the restoration of the first nafta bet. since the beginning of their management, he has got proceeded with all the second wager too.

Mexicos dysfunctional tax, labour and personal insurance coverage establishments and laws will always be there, as are the well-known inadequacies of its judicial system. personal addition is at the same time pursued, all over again, through random combinations of programmes: newer and more effective, some old with brand-new brands (once more, comme ii faut).

Furthermore, the context where those two bets are increasingly being made is more complex than in the past.

The lpez obrador administration made some controversial choices regarding energy industry. it has also embarked on some highly noticeable and questionable financial investment jobs, including a tourist train to circumnavigate the mayan region of southern mexico. these have increased company sector doubt and damped exclusive financial investment, bringing to a halt the small growth that there ended up being.

Also, the absence of a countercyclical response to covid-19 features deepened the inescapable recession. associating such policies with corporate bailouts, and loath to take on public debt, mr lpez obrador has instead insisted on relative fiscal inaction unlike governments somewhere else.

Naturally, it's drawn many interest and no little critique. but that should maybe not distract from the more crucial proven fact that the bets mexico is making under mr lpez obrador are identical as before. they failed to work whenever conditions had been even more favourable. unfortunately, there's absolutely no reason they will certainly work now.