Tycoon Slim says Trump not 'Terminator,' sees opportunities for Mexico

Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:20pm EST
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By Christine Murray

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Billionaire Carlos Slim said on Friday that Mexico should not fear Donald Trump, seeing opportunities for his country in the U.S. president's economic policies, and praising Mexicans for uniting behind their government in talks with the northern neighbor.

In a rare news conference, the telecommunications and construction mogul called Trump a negotiator, "not Terminator" and said his repeated attacks on Mexico had united the country, giving President Enrique Pena Nieto "strength" in trade and border security talks.

"This is the most surprising example of national unity that I've had the pleasure of seeing in my life," said Slim, who turns 77 on Saturday. He compared Mexicans' response to that when a devastating earthquake that hit Mexico City in 1985. "We have to back the president of Mexico so he defends our national interests."

Slim spoke to reporters after Pena Nieto on Thursday canceled a planned Washington summit with Trump following a tweet by the American that he should stay away unless Mexico agreed to pay for a border wall. Aiming to cool tensions, the two presidents spoke for an hour by phone on Friday, and the battered peso currency strengthened.

Trump's threats to impose steep tariffs on Mexican products have ravaged the peso and spread worries about the economy, which is heavily dependent on the U.S. market.

However, Slim, who spoke out against his fellow billionaire during the U.S. election campaign but had dinner with him after the Nov. 8 victory at the polls, said Trump's policies aimed at growing the U.S. economy would boost Mexico's growth as well as provide jobs for Mexican laborers living north of the border.

"The circumstances in the United States are very favorable for Mexico," Slim said, adding that he has not had any communication with Trump's team since the December dinner.

"It wasn't a romance," he joked about the meeting.   Continued...

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim reads the book "Crippled America: How to make America great again" by Donald Trump  during a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico, January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido