Mexico foreign minister keen to start NAFTA talks in US

Posted May 13, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Thursday confirmed President Donald Trump's nominee for US trade representative on a bipartisan vote despite complaints from some Republicans that the administration has an "ongoing, incoherent and inconsistent trade message". Now that Lighthizer is on board, he is expected to immediately turn his attention to discussions related to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, as well as continue to work on trade differences with China.

As one of his first acts in the presidency, Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, which Congress hadn't yet approved, and he's since vowed to terminate or fix a five-year-old trade agreement with South Korea.

"We can do better in negotiating our trade agreements and stronger in enforcing our trade laws", he said. "It sends the signal that we have many alternatives".

Guajardo was speaking after Trump indicated he wanted to get the US trade deficit with Mexico down to zero.

There are certainly some classic free traders in the Senate, particularly among Republicans, but they have largely gone silent as Trump tries to revamp decades of past global policy.

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"Between ambassador Lighthizer and U.S. department of commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, President Trump has assembled a first-rate team to handle trade and manufacturing matters", Tantillo continued. In his 2010 testimony, Lighthizer had said the US should more aggressively scour WTO rules for new ways to bring cases against China - for manipulating its currency, say.

A Mexican diplomat in Beijing told Reuters he was referring to the China International Fair for Investment & Trade summit in Xiamen. "High-level contact is very frequent", said the diplomat, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Luis Videgaray said he and Mexico's Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade, economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo and interior minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong would visit Washington, DC, next week as the two countries seek to end a dispute over sugar exports and prepare for talks over renegotiating Nafta. He also has represented the United States at meetings of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and meetings related to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (the precursor to the World Trade Organization).

Representatives of Mexico's government and private sector are in Brazil this week to close new supply deals of corn, soy and rice, members of the delegation said Thursday.

However, Mexico has found it hard to wean itself off trade with its natural partner to the north.