Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim said on Thursday that if President-elect Donald Trump succeeds as U.S. leader, it will be good news for Mexico, offering a more upbeat view on the outlook for a Trump government than he had previously.
Slim, a telecoms tycoon who spent several years as the world's richest man, says he has never met Trump, but the two impresarios traded barbs during a bruising U.S. campaign.
In October, Trump accused Slim, the top shareholder in The New York Times Co, of trying to help Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton through his stake, despite the fact that Slim's shares have limited voting rights.
Then, a few days before the Nov. 8 election, Slim said Trump's plans could "destroy" the United States economy.
In his first public comments since the election, Slim said Trump's potential success would also be Mexico's, arguing that a 4 percent U.S. growth rate and the creation of millions of jobs would benefit Latin America's second biggest economy.
"That's fantastic for Mexico," Slim said at an event held by U.S. news agency Bloomberg in Mexico City.
As a result of Trump's victory, Mexico should turn its attention inward and invest to spur growth, he added.
Still, Slim also warned the audience about the effects of some of the protectionist measures Trump has threatened to impose, including steep tariffs on Mexican-made goods.
"To put a tax of 35 percent on our exports will be paid by (U.S.) consumers," he said while speaking on a panel alongside former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Trump has said he will renegotiate or tear up a key trade deal with Mexico as well as build a massive southern border wall. He has also attacked U.S. companies investing south of the border, battering Mexico's peso.
"It's not easy to build a wall, anyway they build tunnels and most people arrive by plane," Slim joked in comments before the election, referring to drug cartels digging tunnels beneath the border to smuggle their products into the United States. (Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Dave Graham and Chris Reese)
By Christine Murray