Following last month's release of a document outlining American NAFTA negotiation goals by United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Mexico has revealed a list of its aims ahead of the talks set to begin in Washington later this month. In addition, the Mexican government has named veteran trade policy expert Kenneth Smith, currently its NAFTA office director at Mexico's Washington embassy, as its chief negotiator. Smith started his career as part of Mexico's original NAFTA negotiating team in 1993.
Key quotes from Mexico's aims were published earlier today by fxstreet.com. Those are:
- Mexico aims to retain complete access for goods and services in NAFTA region
- Mexico aims to establish rules of origin to guarantee the regional benefits of NAFTA
- Mexico aims to modernize customs procedures to facilitate trade, as part of NAFTA negotiations
- Mexico aims to unify agricultural, animal and health safety regulations, as part of NAFTA negotiations
- Mexico aims to increase integration of labor markets in North America, as part of NAFTA negotiations
- Mexico aims to strengthen the dispute resolution mechanisms of NAFTA, as part of trade negotiations
- Mexico aims to protect intellectual property of domestic content producers, as part of NAFTA negotiations
- Mexico aims to incorporate measures to reflect the transformation of the regional energy sector and strengthen regional energy security
- Mexico aims to include transparency and anti-corruption measures
- Mexico aims to capitalize and regionally strengthen the north American development bank
Although the U.S. document doesn't mention it, President Donald Trump has threatened a 35 percent "border tax" on Mexican goods entering the United States ostensibly to preserve U.S. jobs. Reva Goujon, Stratfor's VP of Global Analysis, points out that the White House may not be up for this kind of provocation:
"Whether the White House is really willing to take on a WTO battle that could result in an estimated $100 billion to $400 billion in retaliatory measures annually is also an open question," Goujon writes in a March article. "The Trump administration has demonstrated a profound distrust of multilateral institutions that it sees as constraining U.S. interests. In a recent trade policy paper, the White House made clear that U.S. sovereignty will override the WTO as the administration sees fit. This does not necessarily imply that the Trump administration will be willing to openly flout the WTO and upend a 70-year-old global trading regime and risk billions of dollars in damages. But it does raise the question of whether the United States under the Trump administration is feeling confident enough to gamble that its trading partners will avoid WTO challenges and accommodate themselves to U.S. policy shifts to avoid even bringing the fate of the WTO into question."
At stake are 5 - 6 million American jobs that rely on U.S. trade with Mexico, to say nothing of the $525 billion in trade between the two countries last year or America's reliance on its bordering neighbors for both imports and exports. Whether or not the embattled American president will take this opportunity to practice a less bellicose brand of diplomacy than he does on his social media account remains to be seen come August 16th.