Mexico to discuss deal with Trump

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Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto
Donald Trump and Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto, to discuss NAFTA deal

Mexico is willing to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, the government says.

Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Mexico would try to explain the “strategic importance” of the deal for the region to Trump, who has heavily criticised it.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said he was open to talks.

NAFTA came into effect between the three countries in 1994 but Trump has called it the worst trade deal the U.S. has ever signed.

His strong protectionist sentiments on the campaign trail helped to win support in areas that were formerly manufacturing centres.

The Republican has pledged to bring back U.S. jobs lost to globalisation and Mexico and Canada fear losing access to the U.S. market, on which they heavily depend.

The Mexican peso hit a record low following Donald Trump’s unexpected election victory and fell again on Thursday after recovering slightly.

“We’re ready to talk so we can explain the strategic importance of NAFTA for the region,” Guajardo said.

“Here we’re not talking about renegotiating it, we’re simply talking about dialogue,” he added.

Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu said Mexico was willing to aim to “modernise” NAFTA with a Trump government and Canada, but also ruled out renegotiation.

Trudeau said it was important to be open to discussion on trade deals.

“If the Americans want to talk about NAFTA, I’m more than happy to talk about it,” he said.

No date has been set for talks but Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has said he and Trump have agreed to meet, possibly before the latter’s inauguration in January.

Aside from attacking NAFTA, Trump has also heavily criticised the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a hugely ambitious deal signed between 12 countries that Mexico hoped to use to modernise NAFTA and expand its trade with Asia.

Guajardo said that in the event the TPP is not ratified by the U.S. Congress, signatories should consider trying to implement the rest of the agreement without it.

President-elect Trump has also angered Mexico by saying he would make it pay for a wall he wants to build on the shared border in order to keep out illegal migrants.

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