Last updateFri, 08 Jul 2016 8am

How the US views Mexico, NAFTA

A new in-depth-study reveals Mexico’s brand in the United States remains battered –

with many Americans associating the country with drugs, corruption, and poverty – and that similar to the British public on Brexit, Americans are closely divided on whether to continue or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The national survey,  conducted earlier this month by  strategy consultancy Vianovo among 1,000 U.S. adults, reveals a sharp divergence in how Americans view their northern and southern neighbors. Among U.S. adults:

- 75 percent view Canada positively, while just 22 percent have a favorable image of Mexico. 

- 83 percent believe Canada has a modern economy, whereas just 16 percent believe the same of Mexico. 

- 84 percent would feel safe traveling to Canada, but only 18 percent would feel safe traveling to Mexico.

One specific political risk is continued U.S. participation in NAFTA with 32 percent believing the United States should withdraw from the agreement, 30 percent saying it should continue, and 37 percent without an opinion. 

 Excluding those who don’t know enough to have an opinion, 52 percent of Americans favor leaving NAFTA and 48 percent favor remaining in the agreement, remarkably similar numbers to the recent Brexit vote in the United Kingdom.

“It is clear that many Americans don’t appreciate NAFTA’s positive impact on trade, jobs, and national security and that business and political leaders need to better articulate the benefits of the partnership,” said Vianovo partner James Taylor, who leads the firm’s cross-border practice.

Americans once again cite drug-related violence, corruption and safety concerns as reasons for their negative view of Mexico. And a majority of Americans continue to see Mexico more as a source of problems (54 percent) than as a good neighbor and partner for the United States (22 percent).

Sixty-three percent of respondents believe a Donald Trump presidency would lead to worse relations with Mexico, compared to 23 percent who say the same about a Clinton presidency. 

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