President Donald Trump is isolating the U.S. and jeopardizing global economic growth, former Mexican President Vicente Fox told CNBC Wednesday.
Trump's "America First" economic policy has seen a concerted effort to reduce the U.S. trade deficit by moving away from multilateral free trade agreements to bilateral trade deals, while imposing a range of new or increased tariffs on trade partners.
Speaking to CNBC Wednesday, Fox accused Trump of "isolating that great nation into four walls" and said protectionist policies restrict the U.S. economy's capacity for future growth.
"I'm on the side of free trading, I'm on the side of market economies," Fox said.
"He's building walls, he's isolating the U.S. from the global game of the economy, and this will refrain the growth of economies everywhere in the world."
White House spokesman Judd Deere told CNBC that "free, fair, and reciprocal trade is essential to American and global prosperity, but many countries have pursued a strategy of unfair competition for decades that has created barriers for our great farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs."
"Since taking office, President Trump has used every available tool to level the playing field for American workers and reduce barriers to the export of our goods and services — a promise he made to all Americans and will continue to keep. With a booming economy, low unemployment, and rising wages, it's clear that the President's policy of fair and reciprocal trade along with lower taxes and deregulation are working," he added.
In June, Trump suspended retaliatory tariffs on Mexican imports after the Mexican government agreed measures to halt immigration from Central America to the southern U.S. border.
"Fortunately, the migration trend with Mexico reversed totally so many more Mexicans are coming back into Mexico because of NAFTA, because we're building the opportunities, because we are full employment today in our economy," Fox said, adding that Mexico has also taken "strong steps" to limit migration from Central America.
Neoliberal ideals have given way to the rise of populism in parts of Latin America, with Mexico electing current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his left-wing National Regeneration Party in 2018.
"The reason is that we have not moved fast enough in solving the problems of people, committing wealth, jobs and education for them, so people are, in a way, desperate — they need solutions," Fox, who headed the conservative National Action Party, told CNBC.
"This is where the leading countries, leading economies and leading businessmen, we must accelerate our pace."
He argued that the "new visions for the world" espoused by populist governments will have a detrimental effect on growth, development and jobs in both developed and developing economies.