Saturday, February 4, 2017

FT LatAm Viva For February 3, 2017

Trumpian echoes
By Andres Schipani 
February 3, 2017
This week, many around the world looked on aghast, fearing the United States had started its final march towards oblivion. Some in Latin America saw scenes from Washington mirroring their own past, and even present: regional, populist caudillos in Caracas, Buenos Aires, Lima or Quito. 
Mexicans are, obviously, the most mortified, as Donald Trump’s policies are jeopardising a $580bn relationship with the US anchored in the North American Free Trade Agreement, which also includes Canada. A possible trade war with Mexico could tear apart a partnership worth $1m a minute.
Latin America’s second largest economy and its bigger and richer northern neighbour are supposedly due start talks on the future of the NAFTA in May, although the USA has not actually initiated the required internal proceedings. To compensate, the European Union and Mexico have agreed to “accelerate trade talks” amid a “worrying rise of protectionism around the world,” both sides said in a statement.
That is in stark contrast to the position of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Saturday zapped a tweet praising Trump’s wall building plans with Mexico, hailing it as a "great idea". Three days later, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin telephoned his Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto to apologise.
The US Senate's confirmation of former ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson as secretary of state may add further confusion to Latin America, particularly in Venezuela. Trump could be an ally of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, who in turn may be an ally of Venezuela's unpopular President Nicolás Maduro.
But his fiery predecessor Hugo Chávez seized the assets of ExxonMobil in the oil-rich country when Tillerson was heading the company. Leaving that personal issue aside, he indicated in a written exchange with Senators little change in US policy on Venezuela: to seek a negotiated transition.
Based on the revelations published by Latin America Goes Global, this should be achieved in cooperation with Colombia, a staunch US ally. Oddly then, Tillerson also reportedly vowed to "review the details of Colombia’s recent peace agreement, and determine the extent to which the United States should continue to support it."
More than 6,000 Farc rebels in green fatigues shrugged off such nuances. This week they started their "final march" to the cantonment areas where they have six months to disarm. But there are growing concerns of splinter groups joining armed drug gangs, including powerful networks in neighbouring Brazil.
Speaking of Brazil, Eike Batista, formerly the country's richest man, used to proudly show off his expensive hair implants. This week, the police shaved his head to prevent lice after he made his final march to prison. He turned himself in in Rio de Janeiro, in connection with a sweeping investigation into corruption at Petrobras.
Chart of the week
Trump fear drives Mexican remittances to record 2016
Quote of the week
“We are coming out of recession,” Brazil's President Michel Temer in an interview with the Financial Times after Latin America’s largest economy suffered its second year of deep contraction in 2016.
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The week in review
Mexico’s ‘nervous bulls’ prepare to charge
Investors are beginning to buy, despite country being in Trump’s crosshairs
EM Squared: Slow growth in Mexico casts doubt on merits of Nafta
Output per worker has ‘astonishingly’ remained flat for 35 years
Colour it happy: the rise of the Colombian creatives
Last year’s peace accord, and a positive outlook, have seen a boom in the country’s brands
Lex: BBVA: down, Mexico way
Investors have chosen to disregard normal bank metrics and instead focus on Twitter
Fast FT: EU and Mexico to 'accelerate' talks on trade pact
Fast FT: Mexico growth slows in fourth quarter
Eike Batista gives himself up in Brazil corruption probe
Former Brazil billionaire returns from US after police hunt linked to Petrobras inquiry
Visa stamps and a cold war in the legal limbo of Antarctica
Notebook: Territorial claims are important despite a treaty of nearly 60 years ago
The Big Read: Nafta: First shots in a trade war
Trump’s policies jeopardise a $580bn relationship with the US’s neighbour, but Mexico has a few cards to play in any talks
beyondbrics: Effective cooperation with Mexico contributes more to US security than any wall
Asset managers push for governance change in Mexico
Aberdeen and Franklin Templeton among asset managers wanting greater rights for investors
Nick Butler: The future for Mexico under Trump
Trump and Peña Nieto in ‘constructive’ phone call
Cancelled meeting over planned border wall put US-Mexico relations at low ebb
Andres Schipani: Colombia central bank holds pat on rates in surprise decision
Fast FT: Carlos Slim says Mexico should consider forex stabilisation programme
Mexico has been a good neighbour for America
Trump’s Nafta narrative is at odds with reality: the pact benefits both economies
Temer stays tough on Brazil economic reforms
Unpopular president to press on with agenda that has boosted currency and stock market
What business thinks of Donald Trump
CEOs are split between hope for reforms and concern over controversial executive actions