Mexican officials went out of their way on Thursday July 26, to tell their Canadian counterparts not to read anything into the fact that their trade negotiators and the Americans are meeting bilaterally in Washington on Friday — that the new government in Mexico City isn’t planning to cut a separate deal with the U.S. outside of NAFTA.
“The fact that this time we’re going to Washington for a bilateral is just a sequence of things,” said Mexico’s Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo, who handles the NAFTA file. He added that the Canadian and American negotiating teams also often hold two-way talks, and Friday’s bilateral isn’t an indication that Canada could be left out in the cold.
“It’s just a method, not a direction,” Guajardo continued. “We’re not moving in the direction of a bilateral agreement. We still want a trilateral NAFTA.”
In a joint news conference with his Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland yesterday, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray insisted that “we will be closing ranks with Canada … For us, NAFTA is a trilateral agreement.”
The statement came in response to speculation prompted by a series of public claims by U.S. President Donald Trump that the U.S. and Mexico would make a separate two-way trade deal to replace NAFTA.
Trump seemed to reference those claims yesterday as he met with the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker in the White House, when he remarked that “we’re doing very well with Mexico.”
Mexican officials maintain that any negotiations on a two-way trade deal between Mexico and the U.S. remain a figment of the U.S. president’s imagination.
A Mexican government official speaking on background to CBC said his government was frustrated by the fact that stories giving credence to those claims had circulated in Canadian media.
“I don’t know how it even got started,” he said, adding that the Mexican government had given no such signals.
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