Mexico, Latam allies commit to free trade amid Trump threats

Trump says NAFTA deal with Mexico must happen fast
Mexico's incoming president wants to work with Trump to end NAFTA talks anti-establishment alliance

27 July, 2018

The United States has imposed a 30-per-cent safeguard tariff on imports of solar panels from all countries, including Canada.

Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador released a letter Tuesday from U.S. President Donald Trump saying a NAFTA deal would need to happen fast or he would "go a much different route".

But both men say they had a positive phone call the day after Mexico's July 1 election, and Lopez Obrador has invited Trump to his inauguration.

Trump's letter, which was sent in English and in Spanish, was seen by AFP and read to the press by incoming foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard with American approval.

Mexico and Canada have clashed with the United States over an update of the trilateral trade accord since Trump's team demanded tougher regional content rules for the auto industry and proposed a clause that would kill the agreement if it was not renegotiated after five years.

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Guajardo is due to meet his Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday, also to discuss NAFTA.

In his own missive, the incoming president said Mexico wants ties founded on "respect, friendship and focused on development cooperation", and said that the more Mexico gets developed, the fewer people will have to leave the country in search of work. "We will try to make emigration optional and not necessary", Lopez Obrador wrote in the seven-page letter.

Chile's Pinera said he met with aides to Lopez Obrador, and said he was confident the next Mexican president would remain committed to free trade.

The tariff on solar cells was also challenged at the World Trade Organization by the European Union, China, South Korea and Taiwan. In more recent months-amid reports that NAFTA talks have grown contentious and that the considering withdrawing altogether - the administration announced tariffs on certain imports that directly affect our neighbors to the immediate north and south. An agreement depends on US willingness to back off proposals that are opposed by Mexico, Canada and American business groups, such as an automatic expiration of the deal after five years and the end of dispute resolution panels, according to the people.

He said the answer has less to do with traditional perceptions of threats to national security, and "reveals a more general concern about the impact of the Trump administration on Canadian interests, including our economic interests".

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