Mexico is willing to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump but may seek to circumvent the United States on a broader trans-Pacific deal if necessary, a top official said on Thursday.
Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Mexico aims to persuade Trump how beneficial NAFTA, which took effect in 1994 between the United States, Mexico and Canada, had been for North America, despite the American’s criticism of the deal.
“We’re ready to talk so we can explain the strategic importance of NAFTA for the region. Here we’re not talking about … renegotiating it, we’re simply talking about dialogue,” Guajardo said in a telephone interview.
“Today the world is not competing by country, it’s competing by region,” the minister said, echoing comments by Trump himself during a late August visit to Mexico City when he spoke of the need to keep “manufacturing wealth” in North America.
No date has yet been set for talks, but Guajardo said he expected the two sides to find one soon. President Enrique Pena Nieto said he and Trump have agreed to meet, possibly during the transition period before his inauguration on Jan. 20.