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Mexico Economy Minister: NAFTA Must Remain Trilateral Accord

FROM: Voa News / Reuters / 3 de marzo de 2018

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo on Tuesday rejected making a bilateral trade treaty with the United States, saying the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is currently being renegotiated, must remain a three-country accord.

On Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said time to rework the deal was running “very short” and again raised the possibility of the United States pursuing bilateral deals with its partners, while stressing that Washington would prefer a three-way agreement.

NAFTA “has to be a trilateral accord, given the conditions of integration in North America,” Guajardo said in an interview with the Televisa network on Tuesday. “It must be that way.”

Lighthizer said on Monday that Mexico’s presidential election and the looming expiry of a congressional negotiating authorization in July puts the onus on the United States, Mexico and Canada to come up with a plan soon.

The latest round of talks have been clouded, however, by U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to launch metals tariffs. On Monday, Trump tweeted that “tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed.”

Guajardo said on Tuesday that if the U.S. government were to push ahead with metals tariffs that included Mexico, the country would be forced to respond with politically targeted tit-for-tat responses.

“There’s a list (of U.S. products) that we are analyzing internally, but we won’t make it public, we’re going to wait,” Guajardo said.

He also said that in a meeting in Washington last week, in which he met Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, he told the U.S. official that Mexico should not be included in the proposed tariffs.

“We’re allies in national security … our industries are highly integrated, we buy more (U.S.) steel than we sell, and so there’s no point in shooting oneself in the foot,” he said.

 

 

FROM: Voa News / Reuters / 3 de marzo de 2018

Mexico’s finance minister isn’t worried about a ‘plan B’ for NAFTA

FROM: CNBC / Natasha Turak / 25 de Enero de 2018

 

Mexico’s Finance Minister Jose Antonio Anaya appeared confident in the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), telling CNBC Wednesday that dialogue between the trade partners was ongoing.

“Our central scenario is that this will go to a good deal,” Anaya said while at the World Economic Forum at Davos. “We believe trade is good for all three nations, and that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Asked about a potential “plan B” if the U.S. chooses to terminate the deal, Anaya stuck to a positive note, avoiding any doomsday scenarios.

Anaya’s Davos appearance coincides with the sixth and penultimate round of NAFTA negotiations currently underway in Montreal, Canada.

The 24-year-old agreement is now in jeopardy unless Canada and Mexico satisfy U.S. demands for changes to the deal. President Donald Trump maligned NAFTA during his presidential campaign, claiming it hurt American jobs, and threatened to abandon it altogether if his administration’s needs are not met.

NAFTA, which eliminated tariffs across territory encompassing 450 million people, has been a lifeline for Mexican jobs. Asked about the likelihood of a U.S. pullout, Anaya was vague.

“It’s hard to say, but … What we can say about the NAFTA negotiations is that there’s dialogue and there’s a process,” he said. Anaya took up the ministerial position in late 2017, after two years at the helm of state-owned oil company Pemex.

He echoed Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who spoke to CNBC earlier in the week, expressing confidence in the agreement’s preservation.

“Let us work on plan A,” Anaya said. “Plan A is that NAFTA has been good for Mexico, good for the United States, and good for Canada. That’s the way we see it, and we’re going to continue to work on a new version that is also good for all of us.”

“We want to keep it as a trilateral deal, and we’ve always worked on that front,” the minister continued. “The dialogue is going on, and that’s what we should bet on.”

Since the deal’s signing in 1994, U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) into Mexico has increased from $15 billion to more than $100 billion, and regional trade has expanded from $290 billion to $1.1 trillion. Some 14 million American jobs depend on trade with Mexico and Canada, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Disagreements persist over the negative impact of the trade pact on the American economy. Washington D.C.-based think tank Public Citizen has reported the deal led to the loss of up to 1 million U.S. jobs and a $181 billion trade deficit with Mexico and Canada.

The bulk of U.S. jobs lost were in former manufacturing hubs like Michigan and Texas, states that went to Trump in the 2016 election.

 

 

FROM: CNBC / Natasha Turak / 25 de Enero de 2018