Mexico would throw its relationship with the United States wide open in discussions with the inbound Trump administration. The country said Wednesday that it is putting security, migration, and trade on the table as it strives to avoid a major economic shock.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has warned that he would tear up a trade agreement that strengthens Mexico’s export model if he is unable to re-negotiate its terms in his favor. Trump’s rhetoric has battered the peso currency and fueled uncertainty over foreign investment.
Mexico would take a wide-ranging approach to the challenge, pursuing a resolution that would help both Mexico and the United States as he looks to create a platform that provides him room for maneuver in talks, President Enrique Pena Nieto said.
In a speech to diplomats in Mexico City, drawing up his negotiating position for the first time, Pena Nieto said, “All the issues that define our bilateral relationship are on the table, including security, migration, and trade.”
Last month, Reuters stated that Mexico’s government intended to use security and migration to secure leverage over the United States in its dialogues with Trump, and could propose to strengthen its borders to get a better deal on trade.
Mexico would invest in a more protected border, but reiterated his position that it would not pay for the border wall Trump intends to erect, Pena Nieto said.
Throughout the campaign, Trump warned that he would have Mexico fund the wall by blocking remittances from Mexicans residing in the United States. Pena Nieto said he would act to make sure those funds continued to flow freely past the border.
Pena Nieto said Mexico and the U.S. government have a mutual responsibility for migrants striving to reach the United States, and should also work to prevent the southward movement of weapons and illicit funds that help bankroll Mexican organized crime.
Mexican officials point to an upsurge in deportations of illegal immigrants under Pena Nieto, and to the country’s significance in working with U.S. law enforcement to fight growing U.S. demand for lethal drugs such as heroin sneaked in from Mexico.
They contend that if Trump pursues to hurt Mexico on trade, there is little reason for the Mexican government to make an effort on behalf of the United States on other issues.
NAFTA to be scrapped or modified
Mexico directs 80 percent of its exports to the United States and is keen to support the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the two nations and Canada that functions as a channel for the majority of foreign direct investment in Mexico.
Trump has described NAFTA a “disaster” and promised to scrap or modify it in the prospect of returning jobs back to America.
Meanwhile, policymakers and economists have said Mexico must strive to lessen its reliance on the United States.
Pena Nieto said his government would work toward diversifying business relations with Asia and Latin American nations where it had room for improvement, such as Argentina and Brazil.
Mexico also plans to conclude talks with the European Union on renewing a joint trade accord in the next 12 months, he added.
Trump said in a news conference on Wednesday he would soon start discussions with Mexico on the border wall and would make Mexico refund the United States for construction costs.
Further, Trump assured a major border tax on firms that redeployed jobs outside the United States, providing the case of firms relocating plants to Mexico.