MEXICO CITY, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Mexico and the European Union (EU) are expected to wrap up by the end of this year negotiations for a new free trade agreement to replace the one signed over 17 years ago, officials from the two sides announced here on Monday.
In a joint press conference, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said both sides were committed to reaching a deal.
The two sides have "agreed to accelerate the pace of negotiations even further," said Malmstrom.
Referring to the anti-trade sentiment in some countries, the EU's envoy said: "We want to send a clear signal to the world about the importance of strengthening, not weakening, the rules that govern international trade."
For his part, Guajardo said the new agreement aims to expand bilateral trade and access to markets when countries like the United States are turning to protectionism.
Strengthening economic and trade exchanges with existing trade partners and diversifying global trade ties are a priority for Mexico, said Guajardo.
The new deal will simplify red-tape procedures to boost growth and competitiveness, enrich consumers' choices and create jobs on both sides, according to the EU trade website.
The next round of talks are set to be held on June 26-30 in Mexico.
Once the negotiations are concluded, the agreement will be submitted to lawmakers of both sides for approval.
Since the existing agreement took effect in 2000, bilateral trade tripled from 20.8 billion U.S. dollars to 61.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2016.