Mexico targets free trade with U.S. and Canada, seeks other pacts

Tue Jan 24, 2017 10:43pm EST
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By Dave Graham

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico will fight for free trade with NAFTA partners Canada and the United States in talks with the new U.S. government, as well as seek bilateral trade deals with other nations, President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Monday.

In a keynote foreign policy speech aimed at reassuring the Mexican public about the impact of Donald Trump's presidency, Pena Nieto set out his priorities and underlined the importance of frank, open dialogue with the new U.S. administration.

"Neither confrontation nor submission. The solution is dialogue and negotiation," Pena Nieto told business and political leaders at his official residence. "Trade between the three countries should be free of any tariff or quota."

Trump wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada in order, he says, to bring back jobs, and has threatened to dump the accord if the talks do not yield a "fair" deal.

Separately, on Monday, a businessman named by Trump to head a business advisory council, Stephen Schwarzman, said Canada has a "very special status" and is not a target of changes sought to the NAFTA accord.

Trump, who took office on Friday, has threatened to slap hefty taxes on companies that produce in Mexico for the U.S. market, and to build a border wall to combat illegal immigrants that he says Mexico will pay for.

"Mexico doesn't believe in walls. Our country believes in bridges," Pena Nieto said.

Pena Nieto listed 10 objectives for talks with Trump, including getting U.S. pledges to guarantee Mexican migrants' rights, ensuring the free flow of remittances from the United States into Mexico, and adding sections on telecommunications and energy to NAFTA.   Continued...

A view of the access to the Tornillo-Guadalupe international bridge in the municipality of Guadalupe, in the Juarez Valley, Mexico January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo