Canada to Mexico on NAFTA: you might be on your own

Tue Jan 24, 2017 2:31pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canada will focus on preserving its U.S. trade ties during talks to renegotiate NAFTA and may not be able to help Mexico avoid being targeted by the Trump administration, Canadian government sources say.

"We love our Mexican friends. But our national interests come first and the friendship comes second," a source said on the sidelines of a cabinet retreat in Calgary, Alberta.

"The two are not mutually exclusive," the source added.

The comments are some of the starkest yet by Canadian officials, who are increasingly convinced Mexico will suffer the most damage from changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday said he planned talks soon to begin renegotiating NAFTA, under which Canada and Mexico send most of their exports to the United States.

The Canadian sources stress Ottawa has not taken any final decision on how to approach the NAFTA talks, since Trump's opening stance is largely unknown.

The government dismisses the idea that Canada will formally abandon Mexico. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Tuesday that Canada supported NAFTA as a trilateral agreement and noted that Trudeau had talked to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto over the weekend.

That said, the government sources note Mexico and Canada would appear to have little in common. Trump is unhappy about the large U.S. deficit with Mexico and has promised to punish firms with manufacturing bases there.   Continued...

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto speaks with an assistant during the deliver of a message about foreign affairs at Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City, Mexico, January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido