US presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves after a joint press conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (out of frame) in Mexico City on August 31, 2016.
Donald Trump was expected in Mexico Wednesday to meet its president, in a move aimed at showing that despite the Republican White House hopeful's hardline opposition to illegal immigration he is no close-minded xenophobe. Trump stunned the political establishment when he announced late Tuesday that he was making the surprise trip south of the border to meet with President Enrique Pena Nieto, a sharp Trump critic.
 / AFP / YURI CORTEZ        (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
US presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves after a joint press conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (out of frame) in Mexico City on August 31, 2016. Donald Trump was expected in Mexico Wednesday to meet its president, in a move aimed at showing that despite the Republican White House hopeful's hardline opposition to illegal immigration he is no close-minded xenophobe. Trump stunned the political establishment when he announced late Tuesday that he was making the surprise trip south of the border to meet with President Enrique Pena Nieto, a sharp Trump critic. / AFP / YURI CORTEZ (Photo credit should read YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:40
Trump signs executive actions on border wall
President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Richard Drew/AP
President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Now playing
01:17
Trump to migrants: Make your nations great again
Central American immigrants depart ICE custody, pending future immigration court hearings on June 11, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Thousands of undocumented immigrants continue to cross into the U.S., despite the Trump administration's recent "zero tolerance" approach to immigration policy.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
John Moore/Getty Images
Central American immigrants depart ICE custody, pending future immigration court hearings on June 11, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Thousands of undocumented immigrants continue to cross into the U.S., despite the Trump administration's recent "zero tolerance" approach to immigration policy. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:06
Judge blocks asylum seekers from deportation
Pool
Now playing
01:51
Trump: I prefer shutdown before midterms
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 29:  Demonstrators hold a rally in the Little village neighborhood calling for the elimination of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and an end to family detentions on June 29, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Protests have erupted around the country recently as people voice outrage over the separation and detention of undocumented children and their parents.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 29: Demonstrators hold a rally in the Little village neighborhood calling for the elimination of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and an end to family detentions on June 29, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Protests have erupted around the country recently as people voice outrage over the separation and detention of undocumented children and their parents. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:30
HHS refusing to release family separation stats
Now playing
01:01
Reporter to Sarah Sanders: Why did Trump lie?
Now playing
01:28
Trump: ICE agents are mean but have heart
Pool
Now playing
01:23
Trump: Our facilities better than Obama's
trump king of jordan visit
CNN
trump king of jordan visit
Now playing
01:15
Trump: No regrets signing executive order
Immigrant children walk in a line outside the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, a former Job Corps site that now houses them, on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/AP
Immigrant children walk in a line outside the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, a former Job Corps site that now houses them, on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Now playing
01:54
Children in limbo after Trump executive order
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci/AP
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Now playing
02:18
White House chaos over immigration reversal
Watched by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (L) and Vice President Mike Pence, US President Donald Trump signs an executive order on immigration in the Oval Office of the White House on June 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. - US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed at putting an end to the controversial separation of migrant families at the border, reversing a harsh practice that had earned international scorn."It's about keeping families together," Trump said at the signing ceremony. "I did not like the sight of families being separated," he added. (Photo by Mandel Ngan / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Watched by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (L) and Vice President Mike Pence, US President Donald Trump signs an executive order on immigration in the Oval Office of the White House on June 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. - US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed at putting an end to the controversial separation of migrant families at the border, reversing a harsh practice that had earned international scorn."It's about keeping families together," Trump said at the signing ceremony. "I did not like the sight of families being separated," he added. (Photo by Mandel Ngan / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:49
What's next after Trump's policy reversal?
Trump meeting 06202018
POOL
Trump meeting 06202018
Now playing
02:33
Trump reverses position on family separations
President Donald Trump signs an executive order to keep families together at the border, but says that the 'zero-tolerance' prosecution policy will continue, during an event in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Standing behind Trump are Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, left, and Vice President Mike Pence. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Donald Trump signs an executive order to keep families together at the border, but says that the 'zero-tolerance' prosecution policy will continue, during an event in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Standing behind Trump are Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, left, and Vice President Mike Pence. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Now playing
01:52
Trump signs executive order to end family separations
CNN
Now playing
01:18
Trump: Take children away to prosecute parents
THE PRESIDENT meets with the National Space Council  In-House Pool (Pre-set 9:30AM | Final Gather 11:15AM -- Palm Room Doors)
Pool
THE PRESIDENT meets with the National Space Council In-House Pool (Pre-set 9:30AM | Final Gather 11:15AM -- Palm Room Doors)
Now playing
01:40
Trump: The US will not be a migrant camp

Story highlights

Mexican officials mainly concerned about NAFTA future

Mexico's President has said his country will not pay for a border wall

Mexico City CNN —  

It’s time to talk about the wall.

US President Donald Trump signed executive orders calling for a border wall Wednesday, followed hours later by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s promise Mexico would never pay for it.

Officials from both countries were set to meet next week before Peña Nieto said he was canceling his upcoming visit to the US. The Mexican leader’s decision, announced Thursday via Twitter, came after Trump suggested Peña Nieto should bow out of the meeting if he isn’t willing to pay for the wall.

For many, the wall is a sign that Trump plans to follow through on his campaign promises regarding Mexico – meaning there’s more than just the wall at stake.

Respect

Many Mexicans argue what’s really at stake is pride.

Trump kicked off his election campaign in 2015 with a speech in which he accused Mexicans of bringing crime into the United States and of being “rapists.”

It’s unclear how Peña Nieto’s cancellations will affect talks between the two countries. Mexico’s new foreign minister, known to have a good relationship with Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, met with Mexican senators Tuesday ahead of his first face-to-face diplomatic meeting with the Trump administration in Washington, scheduled for Thursday.

02:54 - Source: CNN
Trump: Mexico to reimburse US for wall

NAFTA

Mexican government officials tell CNN that the immediate concern is NAFTA, not the wall.

The free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States has been a major boon to the Mexican economy, but Trump believes that is because it siphoned jobs from the US, shipping them south.

Manufacturing jobs in the United States have declined significantly since 2000.

One of Trump’s signature campaign promises was to renegotiate the pact, which went into effect in 1994, in order to bring jobs back to the United States.

Mexico agrees NAFTA can be renegotiated, but only under certain terms, according to Mexico’s foreign and economy ministers.

Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Mexico will walk away from negotiations with the US if Trump tries to make Mexico pay for the wall in any way or imposes a tax on remittances.

“Mexico is prepared to walk away from a deal if (the United States) fails to respect Mexico’s sovereignty and dignity,” Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray reiterated.

Exports to the US have given the manufacturing industry and employment in Mexico a major boost. Eighty percent of Mexican manufactured exports go to the United States – nearly half are automobiles. Getting rid of free trade between the countries would hurt the Mexican auto industry in two ways: by raising the cost of vehicles exported to the US and, if imported supplies are taxed, by raising the cost of production for Mexico.

According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, US goods imported from Mexico totaled $295 billion in 2015, up 638% from 1993 (pre-NAFTA).

Oil sales

Oil is the backbone of the Mexican economy, and a lot of it is sold to the US.

Crude petroleum oil has been one of the leading US import items from Mexico by a wide margin, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

The US purchased $27.7 billion of it in 2014 – nearly 30 percent more than the next leading item.

If the US Treasury Department were to slap a tariff on oil or put some sort of sanction on Mexico, it would likely significantly impact the Mexican economy (though it would also affect US businesses that purchase oil from Mexico.)

Remittances and visas

Mexicans abroad, mainly in the US, sent nearly $25 billion in 2015 to their relatives and loved ones back home, Mexico’s Central Bank reported in early February – the first time remittances were the most important source of revenue for Mexico since officials started tracking the figure in 1995.

That money is a lifeline for many poor Mexicans, especially when the economy is struggling.

Trump threatens Mexico’s biggest cash source

The Trump administration could make it much harder for Mexicans or Americans in the US to send cash to the country by blocking remittances – an idea he floated on the campaign trail in a letter to The Washington Post.

In the same letter, the Trump campaign also threatened to cancel visas and raise visa fees as means to either fund the wall or get Mexico to pay for it.

Security cooperation

The Trump administration could threaten to pull out of security agreements with Mexico that help the country in its war on organized crime and the drug trade.

The US provided $139 million to Mexico for security assistance in the 2016 fiscal year – and some $2.6 billion from 2008 to 2016 – according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

But pulling assistance could backfire. If the violence and drug cartels become more powerful, the effects could spill over into the United States.

Foreign Minister Videgaray has laid out a 10-point strategy plan for its relationship with the United States this week, emphasizing human rights, free trade and immigration.

“I think it is a win-win situation. (Trump) needs to see that. It is something that, well, the reality from Washington to the border is completely different,” said Sen. Gabriela Cuevas Barron, head of Mexico’s Foreign Affairs committee. “(Trump) needs to understand the border and the bi-national families, industries, business. There is a different reality that Trump and his team need to see.”

Time to stand firm?

Some senators say it’s time for Mexico to stand firm and will doubtless be pleased that Peña Nieto canceled his meetings with Trump.

“We don’t accept any aggressions. We are a country that must be treated as equals, even though we have a lot of asymmetries. We have been friends. We have been commercial associates. We are two countries that continue to share a prosperous future,” Sen. Armando Rios Piter told CNN.

Prior to Peña Nieto canceling the meetings, Sen. Roberto Gil Zuarth, from Mexico’s National Action Party, tweeted, “Given the announcement on the wall, the visit of the Mexican delegation today only makes sense to warn that there will be no meeting.”

CNN’s Joshua Berlinger and Rafael Romo contributed to this report.