President López Obrador and European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen agreed on Thursday to expedite negotiations aimed at finalizing a new free trade pact between Mexico and the European Union (EU).
Von der Leyen, a former minister of defense in Germany who has been head of the executive branch of the European Union since late 2019, met with López Obrador at the National Palace in Mexico City.
It was the first visit to Mexico by an EC president in 11 years and “aimed to relaunch the bilateral relationship and the strategic partnership between Mexico and the European Union in all its dimensions,” according to a joint press release.
To develop a deeper political, trade and cooperation partnership, the statement said, López Obrador and von der Leyen “concurred on the importance of the draft modernized Global Agreement and agreed to expedite negotiations with a view to finalize the agreement before the end of the year.”
Mexico and the European Union reached an agreement in principle on the main trade parts of a new Global Agreement in April 2018, but haven’t finalized the pact in the more than five years since then.
The new deal, which will replace the existing Global Agreement once ratified, will allow tariff-free trade of most Mexican and European products. It will also allow Mexican companies to bid for government contracts in Europe and EU companies for those in Mexico, according to a Reuters report.
“Mexico is the EU’s second largest trading partner in Latin America and the Caribbean, while the EU is Mexico’s third largest trading partner and the second largest investor in the country,” according to the joint press release.
The statement also said that López Obrador and von der Leyen “identified joint priorities and challenges such as the fight against inequality, the fight against poverty, human rights, the energy transition, the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, migration, health, inflation and food security and the defense of international law.”
In addition, the two leaders spoke about the EU’s Global Gateway strategy, in which EU institutions and member states “jointly, will mobilize up to €300 billion of investments for sustainable and high-quality projects, taking into account the needs of partner countries and ensuring lasting benefits for local communities,” according to the EC website.
The initiative offers opportunities for “priority projects in Mexico, on sustainable finance, public health, vaccine production, sustainable energy including green hydrogen, and on sustainable water management,” the statement said.
López Obrador and van der Leyen “agreed on the potential of Mexican initiatives” such as the Plan Sonora renewable energy project and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec interoceanic trade corridor, the press release added.
In a wide-ranging discussion, the two presidents “identified Mexico as a strategic energy, industrial and logistical hub to supply the North American and European markets, with a high potential in green hydrogen energy, and agreed that European investments will be important to contribute to its development.”
They “reaffirmed their solidarity with the people of Ukraine after the Russian aggression,” emphasized their joint commitment to “combat the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons,” recognized “the importance of a comprehensive approach to address migration” and “agreed that the Summit of Leaders of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the European Union, held on 17 and 18 July 2023 in Brussels, Belgium, would enable the long-standing bi-regional partnership to be renewed and strengthened.”
On social media, López Obrador described von der Leyen as an “intelligent and nice woman.”
“… We agreed to speed up the signing of the free trade agreement between our country and the European Union,” he added.
The EC president said on Twitter that Mexico is a “strategic partner and key G20 member, with whom we share core values.”
“… #GlobalGateway will power our partnership. We will support your Plan Sonora, to harness a resource you have in abundance: the sun. And we will work together to increase the resilience of health systems in the region. This is just a start – we should explore more,” von der Leyen said.
“We have a thriving partnership but we can do much more. We agreed to speed up negotiations and finalize our modernized EU-Mexico agreement before the end of the year,” she said.
During the EC president’s visit to Mexico, the European Investment Bank (EIB) – the EU’s development bank – signed a declaration of intent with Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) to “reinforce their strategic partnership on financing sustainable development in the country,” the EIB said.
In the declaration, the SRE said, “the government of Mexico and the EIB express their interest in collaborating on programs and projects that generate positive social, economic and environmental rights in benefit of the Mexican people.”
Mexico News Daily