Mexico president-elect wants Canada in new NAFTA


Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called Monday for a three-way trade deal with the United States and Canada, saying a two-way agreement reached with the US was just a first step.

“It’s important that Canada also be included,” said the leftist president-elect after the US and Mexico announced a bilateral deal to update the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“We’re very interested in it remaining a three-country deal,” he told journalists. “The free-trade agreement should remain as it was originally conceived.”

The ball is now in Canada’s court after the United States and Mexico reached an agreement including a compromise on the controversial auto sector, higher wages for Mexican workers and a provision to review the accord every six years.

Canada’s top diplomat and trade negotiator Chrystia Freeland cut short her trip to Europe to travel to Washington on Tuesday to rejoin the talks.

Lopez Obrador, a leftist free-trade skeptic who won a landslide election victory on July 1, said he considered it a good deal for Mexico.

He placed particular emphasis on energy issues, which had become a potential point of friction.

Lopez Obrador, who takes office on December 1, has been reluctant to continue outgoing president Enrique Pena Nieto’s opening of the Mexican energy sector, complicating the negotiations.

“We’re satisfied, because our sovereignty has been safeguarded. Mexico reserves the right to reform its energy laws, and it’s laid down in writing that Mexico’s oil and natural resources belong to the nation,” he said.

He thanked US President Donald Trump for his “understanding” and “respect” on the issue.

“We also take a favorable view of the fact that salaries have been increased in the auto industry,” Lopez Obrador added.

The three countries have been renegotiating NAFTA for just over a year at the behest of Trump, who calls the 1994 trade pact a “terrible deal” that he blames for sending US manufacturing jobs to Mexico.

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