Mexico Says It Would Walk Away From Nafta Table If U.S. Withdraws

By Anthony Harrup and Felicia Schwartz Features Dow Jones Newswires

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Wednesday that Mexico would leave the negotiating table if U.S. President Donald Trump were to start the process of withdrawing the U.S. from the North American Free Trade Agreement while talks are in process.

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Speaking to reporters following meetings in Washington, D.C. with U.S. officials, Mr. Videgaray said that Mexico remains committed to renegotiating Nafta with the U.S. and Canada.

But asked if Mexico would remain at the table if Mr. Trump followed through on threats to start the process of withdrawing from the trade pact, Mr. Videgaray said, "No. We think the negotiation already has a process."

"We don't think it would be the right path or a viable path to terminate the agreement just when we're in negotiations," he added.

A first round of negotiations to redraw Nafta was held in the U.S. capital earlier this month, and a second round is scheduled to start Friday in Mexico City.

Mr. Videgaray and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo met Wednesday with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House adviser Jared Kushner.

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Officials from both countries reviewed the progress in the first round of talks, and agreed to continue promoting a modernization of Nafta, the Economy Ministry said in a release.

Mr. Videgaray also met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who in a brief message thanked Mexico for its offer of assistance for flood victims in Texas.

Mr. Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that Mexico and Canada were being difficult in the Nafta talks and that he may have to start a withdrawal process to get a good deal for the U.S.

Speaking in Missouri Wednesday, Mr. Trump again spoke critically of the trade agreement, but indicated that the talks will continue for now.

"We're working right now on Nafta -- the horrible, terrible Nafta deal that took so much business out of your state and out of your cities and towns, and we're working on it. Let's see what happens," he said to applause, according to a transcript from the White House.

"We got to change this deal. And hopefully we can renegotiate it. But if we can't, we'll terminate it and we'll start all over again with a real deal," he added.

Write to Anthony Harrup at anthony.harrup@wsj.com and Felicia Schwartz at Felicia.Schwartz@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 30, 2017 19:17 ET (23:17 GMT)