Mexico's president-elect to scrap $13bn airport project

Mexico's president-elect to scrap $13bn airport project

Mexico's president-elect to scrap $13bn airport project

Mexico's president-elect is facing criticism for cancelling the building of a new airport in Mexico City.

Instead, a military air base north of the capital will be converted for commercial use to ease overcrowding at the current hub. The decision won't affect the interests of businesses and financiers, Lopez Obrador said, without specifying how.

About one million people took part in the vote over four days, about 1% of the electorate, and critics have alleged cases of people casting multiple ballots.

However, worldwide markets were quite certain of one thing Monday as the peso traded decidedly lower. The peso posted its biggest one-day drop since the 2016 US election. "That essentially collapsed. People are reassessing everything about Mexico", said Gustavo Rangel, economist at ING in NY, said.

While the vote is non-binding, Obrador has pledged to follow the results.

Juan Pablo Castanon, the head of Mexico's Business Coordinating Council, an industry group, fiercely criticized Lopez Obrador's decision to obey the vote, saying it "seriously hurts Mexico's image in the world" and "sends a message of uncertainty" to financial markets.

"It's normal. Once there is more information things will calm down".

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The yield on Mexico's benchmark 10-year peso bond was bid 37 basis points higher to 8.74 percent, driving the price sharply lower, in its biggest one-day jump in yield since Trump's election raised worries he would rip up the NAFTA free trade deal with Mexico.

"He hasn't yet taken office, but he's already managed to cancel the largest infrastructure project in Mexico based on the decision of one percent of the population".

Lopez Obrador said he had received assurances from global experts that the current airport and Santa Lucia could operate simultaneously.

Peter Cerda, regional vice-president for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said abandoning the project would cost Mexico's economy $20bn annually. After winning, he said the issue should be put before Mexican citizens. The airport became a political lightning rod during this year's presidential campaign as Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, gave conflicting signals about his intentions after vowing to cancel the project that's already cost billions and is more than a third of the way to completion. The city's airport is now working at near capacity and would have been closed had Texcoco been built.

The public consultation vote was organised by Obrador's party, Morena, without involvement from the National Electoral Institute (INE). After his victory, the president-elect proposed holding this week's public consultation, which analysts say allows him to keep his options open with contractors and voters alike.

Several local media outlets reported cases of people who were able to vote a couple of times and highlighted failures in software used to register voter identification cards, while opposition parties suggested the vote had been rigged.

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