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Mexico's Finance Minister Leaves Amid Trump Visit Backlash

Mexico's Finance Minister Leaves Amid Trump Visit Backlash

Wednesday, 07 September 2016 03:57 PM

Mexico Finance Minister Luis Videgaray resigned on Wednesday after a drop in the president’s popularity as public backlash mounted over Donald Trump’s visit to the country last week.

Jose Antonio Meade, a former finance minister who spent the past year as social development minister, replaces Videgaray and will present the government’s 2017 budget proposal to Congress by tomorrow, Pena Nieto said in a message to the media. Videgaray, one of the president’s closest allies in the past 10 years, pushed through a controversial tax increase in 2013 and championed the opening of the nation’s oil industry after 75 years of state monopoly.

Pena Nieto thanked Videgaray, 48, for his work and gave no reason for his departure. Videgaray, a former investment banker, has worked for Pena Nieto since the president first became a governor in the State of Mexico in 2005. Analysts have seen him as a potential candidate to follow in his footsteps in the national election of 2018, or to become the candidate for Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party in the State of Mexico governor’s election next year. That would require him to leave the ministry to run.

“The markets have trusted Videgaray, he was the architect of the reforms and he’s in the middle of an important fiscal consolidation effort," said Gabriel Casillas, chief economist at Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB. "Meade has already been there, people know him, he’s very investor-friendly. You have someone who knows the ministry quite well and that will do a good job."

The Mexican peso extended its loss, falling 0.5 percent to 18.3683 per dollar in afternoon trading in New York.

Videgaray came under criticism in Mexico in recent days after daily newspaper Reforma and other national media reported he advised Pena Nieto to meet with Republican candidate Trump last week. He was also criticized by business leaders for the tax increase that took effect in 2014, stunting consumer demand just at a time when the economy was struggling to accelerate.

Meade, 47, served as Finance Minister for Pena Nieto’s predecessor Felipe Calderon and began Pena Nieto’s presidency as Mexico’s foreign minister. He also previously served as energy minister and a deputy finance minister.

Pena Nieto, 50, has seen his public approval ratings plummet amid dissatisfaction with the government’s efforts against corruption, violence and growth below its own expectations that has dogged him since taking office in 2012. A poll by Reforma newspaper last month showed his popularity plunged to 23 percent, the lowest for any president in two decades.

(Updates with Meade appointment in second paragraph.)

--With assistance from Isabella Cota and Nacha Cattan To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Martin in Mexico City at emartin21@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Vivianne Rodrigues at vrodrigues3@bloomberg.net, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez

©2016 Bloomberg L.P.

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Mexico Finance Minister Luis Videgaray resigned on Wednesday after a drop in the president's popularity as public backlash mounted over Donald Trump's visit to the country last week.Jose Antonio Meade, a former finance minister who spent the past year as social development...
mexico, finance, minister, resigns, trump, backlash, visit
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2016-57-07
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 03:57 PM
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