Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray said here that while his county is open to updating the free trade agreement, it will not accept changes that may reduce economic integration among the US, Canada and Mexico.

“We don’t want it to stop being a free-trade treaty,” Videgaray said during a town-hall interview with The Miami Herald on Tuesday.

He also spoke on the wall that US President Donald Trump wants to build on the Mexican border to keep out “criminals”, Efe news reported.

Trump had a telephone conversation with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto sometime ago in which he had said that though he was inclined to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but he has decided to embark on negotiations aimed at achieving a “good accord” for all parties.

“Based on those premises, we continue working,” Mexico’s top diplomat said, pointing out that a failure of the negotiations would have a significant impact on producers and exporters in the US.

In 2016, Texas alone sold $95 billion worth of goods and services to Mexico, Videgaray said.

On being asked whether the “Trump effect” might boost the chances of nationalist and anti-US candidates in Mexico’s 2018 presidential and congressional elections, Videgaray said: “The risk is there and it’s very real.”

“If Mexicans begin to feel a permanent aggression (from the US), that can be reflected in politics.”

At the same time, he noted that while Trump has talked about mass deportation of undocumented migrants, the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama, deported a record 2.8 million Mexicans.

So far, Videgaray said, the difference in immigration policy between Obama and Trump is more “qualitative” than quantitative, but he acknowledged that the rhetoric of the new administration “generates fear in the Mexican community in the US”.

“There is a lot of fear and mistrust toward the authorities. That is serious,” the Foreign Secretary said.

Regarding Trump’s proposed border wall, Videgaray said that as a sovereign country, the US has the “right to protect its border” as it sees fit.

Even so, building the wall would still be “an unfriendly gesture” toward Mexico, Videgaray added.

“We will not discuss the wall, we will not collaborate in any way, neither financially nor in any other way,” the Mexican official said, alluding to Trump’s repeated assertions that Mexico will pay the costs of construction.

First Published | 31 May 2017 11:21 AM
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