Mexico to abandon NAFTA talks if U.S. moves to withdraw: official

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-12 10:59:17|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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MEXICO CITY, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Mexico will abandon negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if the United States begins withdrawing from the pact, an official said Thursday.

"The moment the free trade treaty is denounced, Mexico will stop negotiating and possibly so will Canada, but I'm not going to speak on Canada's behalf," said Fernando de Mateo, the director general of economic project assessment at Mexico's Economy Ministry.

"No other country in its right mind is going to negotiate with a gun to its head," he said.

The official aired this view in a speech at an economic seminar on behalf of Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, who heads Mexico's NAFTA negotiating team.

De Mateo also said chances were slim the United States would withdraw from the trade deal which has been in place since 1994, as the agreement is supported by key U.S. economic players, including lawmakers and governors.

But if it happens, bilateral trade would be regulated by World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, and only a tenth of Mexican exports would have to pay tariffs.

"It hurts, but it's not the end of the world," said de Mateo of an eventual dissolution of the deal.

"I am a moderate optimist and I think we can successfully conclude this negotiation," he added.

His comments came a day following news reports that the White House was again considering withdrawing from the pact.

Mexico, Canada and the United States have been renegotiating NAFTA since August, at the request of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has alleged the deal has harmed his country.