Mexico, Canada Focus on Reaching Nafta Overhaul Deal With U.S.

By Anthony Harrup Features Dow Jones Newswires

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday reaffirmed their commitment to securing a pact with the U.S. to redraw the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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The two leaders met during Mr. Trudeau's state visit to Mexico, discussing bilateral relations and the negotiations under way in Washington this week to revise Nafta, which has linked the U.S., Mexico and Canada in a free-trade zone since 1994.

Mr. Trudeau traveled to Mexico from Washington, where Wednesday he met with President Donald Trump. Mr. Trump, who has long been a critic of Nafta and has several times threatened to pull out of the accord, said it was possible the U.S. could enter separate pacts with Canada and Mexico if a deal isn't reached.

When Mr. Trudeau was asked whether he had given Mexico assurances that Canada wouldn't drop trilateral talks in favor of bilateral negotiations, he said Thursday that Ottawa remains "committed to the Nafta process."

"We continue to believe that improving upon and modernizing Nafta is the best way to create opportunities for our citizens, for our workers, for our businesses," he said at a press conference.

Mr. Peña Nieto focused his comments on Mr. Trump's willingness to give the negotiations a chance.

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Mexico's goal is to reach an agreement that benefits all three countries, he said. "We hope to attain the synchrony, the harmony, the understanding to achieve an agreement," Mr. Peña Nieto said. "But it's important that it be good for the three sides, not just for one, and we can't be hostage to a single position."

Asked about a reported U.S. proposal to include a sunset clause in Nafta, which would require the agreement to be renewed every five years, Mr. Trudeau said it wouldn't prompt Canada to leave the talks.

"We will not be walking away from the table based on proposals put forward. We will discuss those proposals, we will counter those proposals, and take very seriously the negotiation," he said.

While both Mexico and Canada do most of their trade with the U.S., their own bilateral trade has increased under Nafta to around $20 billion in 2016 from less than $3 billion in 1993.

Write to Anthony Harrup at anthony.harrup@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 13, 2017 01:18 ET (05:18 GMT)