Monday, June 17, 2024

New pact corrects 22 years of mistakes by Mexico: economy secretary

The new bilateral trade agreement with the United States corrects past mistakes made by Mexico and is the result of “intelligent leadership” from President Enrique Peña Nieto, Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo said yesterday.

Speaking at an event attended by 300 of Mexico’s most influential leaders, Guajardo said the pact announced last week by United States President Donald Trump “corrects the errors Mexico made in the last 22 years,” explaining that while NAFTA had benefited workers in the automotive, industrial and business sectors, there were also “losers” who didn’t reap any rewards.

Guajardo said that when Trump took office in January 2017 he sought to “look after his electoral base” who felt that they had been defrauded by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The U.S. president has openly cultivated and courted that sentiment, describing NAFTA as “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere” and blaming the pact for the loss of American jobs and industry to Mexico.

Guajardo said that on April 26, 2017, he received a telephone call from Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray who told him that there was a document on the U.S. president’s desk that if signed would notify Mexico and Canada of the United States’ intention to withdraw from NAFTA.

The economy secretary said the call served as a catalyst for the government to join forces with the private sector in an attempt to maintain the agreement.

“Today, almost a year and a half after that incident, we have an understanding with the United States that preserves the fundamental framework of our trade relationship with that country and adds new elements that strengthens [it to face] the reality that the world and North America live today,” he said.

The role Peña Nieto played in reaching the accord was pivotal, Guajardo declared.

“There is no technical negotiating team in the world that can give results if the leadership of the country doesn’t have a clear vision about how to manage its relationship with the leader of the neighboring country,” he said.

“In that sense, the intelligent leadership of President Peña in this process cannot be denied. He painted where the line of national dignity is but didn’t get roped into shows of bravado that could have placed the wellbeing of the country in danger. In that the only credit goes to Enrique Peña Nieto.”

However, Guajardo also said that the transition team of president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador had played a crucial role in “reviving a negotiation that seemed dead” and praised the current and incoming governments for presenting a united front that “sent a message of certainty and [shared] vision” to its trade partners.

Mexico’s new understanding with its northern neighbor “could motivate other global actors, like the European Union and Japan, to find a new balance with the United States,” he said.

Negotiations to bring Canada into the agreement are continuing in Washington D.C. this week after four days of negotiations last week failed to yield a trilateral deal.

Guajardo this week rejected that Mexico had betrayed Canada by reaching a separate bilateral deal with the U.S. and said that he was hopeful that a Canada-United States pact would be reached by tomorrow.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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