Mexico, Canada seek U.S. soft spots to bolster NAFTA defense
By Dave Graham and David Ljunggren
MEXICO CITY/OTTAWA (Reuters) - From launching a data-mining drive aiming to find supply-chain pressure points to sending officials to mobilize allies in key U.S. states, Mexico and Canada are bolstering their defenses of a regional trade pact President Donald Trump vows to rewrite.
Trump has blamed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs and has threatened to tear it up if he fails to get a better deal.
Fearing the massive disruptions a U.S. pullout could cause, the United States' neighbors and two biggest export markets have focused on sectors most exposed to a breakdown in free trade and with the political clout to influence Washington.
That encompasses many of the states that swept Trump to power in November and senior politicians such as Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor or Wisconsin representative and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Prominent CEOs on Trump's business councils are also key targets, according to people familiar with the lobbying push.
Mexico, for example, has picked out the governors of Texas, Arizona and Indiana as potential allies.
Decision makers in Michigan, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, California and New Mexico are also on Mexico's priority list, according to people involved in talks.
Mexican and U.S. officials and executives have had "hundreds" of meetings since Trump took office, said Moises Kalach, foreign trade chief of the Mexican private sector team leading the defense of NAFTA. (Graphic:tmsnrt.rs/2oYClp2) Continued...