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July 2016, Volume 22, Number 3

Canada, Mexico

Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016; SAWP began to bring Caribbean workers to Canada in 1966.

Canada requires Mexican visitors to obtain visas. PM Justin Trudeau wants to lift visa requirements for Mexicans December 1, 2016, but re-impose them if more than 3,500 Mexicans seek asylum within a year.

Canada, especially Vancouver, is attracting the children of rich Chinese. The share of metro Vancouver's 2.3 million people who are Chinese immigrants rose from seven percent in 1981 to 18 percent in 2011. Since most wealthy Chinese buy homes, some blame Chinese immigrants for the doubling of housing prices over the past decade to an average C$1.6 million ($1.2 million).

Rich Chinese youth often buy expensive cars, and sometimes race them. A reality TV show, Ultra Rich Asian Girls of Vancouver, profiles some of them.

Mexico. Mexico has free-trade agreements with 46 countries, but 80 percent of its $380 billion in annual exports go to the US. The Mexican peso has fallen sharply against the dollar, but Mexican exports have not risen significantly, in part because many Mexican exports are intermediate goods that feed into US supply chains. It takes time for US firms to react to the lower peso and move more production to Mexico.

Mexico's auto sector is booming, producing 3.4 million cars and light trucks in 2015, with projections for five million vehicles by 2020. Over 80 percent of the cars and light trucks assembled in Mexico are exported, mostly to the US.

There are 18 auto production complexes in 11 Mexican states, and auto-related manufacturing is 20 percent of Mexican manufacturing; Kia and Audi will begin production in 2016. Mexico is the seventh-largest car producer and fourth-largest exporter.

South America. Brazil has long been the "country of tomorrow." During the China boom of the past decade, tomorrow arrived for many Brazilians. With commodities prices high and the Workers Party redistributing income, many poor Brazilians saw their incomes jump in the first decade of the 20th century. The Brazilian government took a more interventionist role in the economy, and borrowed money to provide subsidies and protection for favored industries.

Brazil's economy in summer 2016 was in the deepest recession in decades. GDP per capita fell from over $13,000 in 2011 to less than $9,000 in 2016, as exports slumped despite a weaker currency.

Prime Minister Dilma Rousseff was impeached in May 2016 for using state banks to funnel money to the Workers Party to win re-election in 2014; the Senate will vote on her fate in summer 2016. Close relationships between large firms and federal and state governments offering contracts, subsidies, preferred loans and other protections have long been the norm in Brazil, explaining why many of those who voted to impeach Rousseff have also been accused of corruption.

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