By RICARDO CASTILLO
Pandemic Traffic Lights
On Monday, May 11, the federal government will hold an analytical meeting to establish, perhaps as early as Sunday, May 17, what Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) called “a sort of traffic light” to start reopening the nation’s economy back to business as usual.
AMLO said that municipalities where there are no covid-19 contagions (roughly 1,000) will be given the green light, while those with a few cases will get a yellow light, and those with a lot of cases will continue on a red light.
“From that meeting, we will have a guideline to go back to economic activity, mainly in construction, the auto industries, export goods companies and tourism,” he said
“Of course, this process will include a close watch on the medical front, but also a return to classes for students on a scaled-down basis.”
In the end, AMLO said, it will be up to the governor of each of Mexico’s 32 states to make a decision as to which municipalities can be placed on green right away.
AMLO has been pressured by many maquiladora assembly plant companies, which hire Mexicans by the hundreds of thousands.
These companies are pushing to restart operations as soon as possible.
They include ABC Technologies, Delphi Technologies, Faurecia, Bridgestone Americas, Aptiv, Valeo, Nemak and Meritor, among many other transnational firms operating mainly along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Top U.S. Trading Partner
The U.S. Commerce Department said that up until last March, Mexico had consolidated its position as the United States’ top trading partner, after accumulating 15 consecutive months with the largest trade both in imports and exports.
Mexico garnered a $10.58 billion trade surplus.
Trade between the two nations reached $147.776 billion in the first quarter of 2020, down 1.9 percent from 2019, given labor suspensions on both sides of the border due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mexico’s Reserves Are Up
The Central Bank of Mexico (Banxico) said that its strategy to weather the peso devaluation by abstaining from using international reserves established last January is paying off.
The peso has devalued around 25 percent in the last couple months, but has stabilized at under 25 to the U.S. dollar.
International reserves, on the other hand, rose to $186 billion, as was announced at the end of the first week of May 2020, registering a plus for the AMLO administration, which has managed to save more than $14 billion in 16 months.
“Banxico continues to opt for its swaps program to manage currency exchange,” explained New York-based Standard Chartered Bank analyst Ilya Gofshteyn.
Tax Collection Increases
The Mexican Treasury Secretariat’s Tax Administration Service (SAT) said in its quarterly report that stiffer collection practices and fines have led to increased revenues, up by 81 percent compared with the same period in 2019.
The report by department head Raquel Buenrostro said that collected taxes due to tougher auditing practices rose from 44.5 to 88.8 billion pesos.
AMLO Slams “Infodemic”
During this past week, AMLO has been bashing both Twitter and Facebook for permitting troll farms to fill up their pages with vicious attacks on his administration, which, he said, is “affecting social coexistence.”
” The infodemic is the new fake news epidemic proliferating today,” he said.
“This is a transmissible virus that produces disinformation and alarm and affects social coexistence. It is not our objective to censor, but rather to inform the citizenry of how this mechanism works. It has a lot to do with the advancement of technology.”
AMLO said that he wants to know under what terms Twitter and Facebook sign on troll farms.
Both companies adamantly deny the practice of carrying fake news.
“We still have to learn how to confront this epidemic,” AMLO said.
April Inflation Down
The at large inflation rate during April registered a drop of 1.01 percent, down to 2.15 percent from 3.25 in March, the official economy gauging National Institute for Statistics and Geography (Inegi) said in its monthly report, released on Thursday, May 7.
The Inegi acknowledged that the drop was most likely caused by the closure of multiple business due both to the covid-19 pandemic and the plummeting of international oil prices.