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NAFTA: Mexico first

The Mexican representatives need to be ready to defend the national interests from the unacceptable demands of the American Government
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
13/08/2017
09:00
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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We're just a few days from the first round of talks for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Mexico, Canada, and the United States, scheduled for next Wednesday 16. The Mexican representatives need to be ready to defend the national interests from the unacceptable demands of the American Government, during what will certainly become long hours of hot debates.

First of all – as it happens during any negotiation – the Mexican representatives have to make sure their voices carry the same weight as that of their Canadian counterparts, but above all, as that of the Americans.

On this matter, the Mexican Ministry of Economy has highlighted three key issues for the NAFTA talks regarding the proposals made by the American Government. The first one is the fixation of the US with the reduction of the trade deficit with Mexico; the second, the scrapping of Chapter 19, the dispute settlement mechanism; and the third, the protection of American producers against Mexican and Canadian imports, before an alleged damage to producing plants in American soil.

These proposals aren't at all surprising – because these are issues already mentioned by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, and by the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer – yet the proposals clearly are biased, not to say abusive, and Mexico should not yield. It's evident the American representatives will solely act in the best interests of their country, as our representatives should do at any given moment. It would be naive to expect concessions, and considering all that is at stake for the three countries, heads will bump during this renegotiation – which is why we should use all legal and diplomatic resources available to us to settle them.

Not even the possibility of the US exiting the treaty – an undesirable outcome – as a means to force the hand of our negotiators on these three key points should make us back down from the goal of updating – to Mexico's benefit first of all, and its partners second – a treaty convenient for the three countries, thanks to which today there is a huge interdependence between the three North American nations.

Canada, Mexico and the US need to find a balance between their particular interests, aiming towards strengthening regional competitivity and an inclusive and responsible trade; taking advantage of the opportunities of current economy; and offering mutual certainty for commerce and investments. To sum up, they need to make this agreement more dynamic, adapting it to the new realities of the region. For our negotiators, however, the task should be to ensure Mexico is first.

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