Mexico Says It Will Withdraw From NAFTA Talks If US Does

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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Mexico plans to withdraw from the NAFTA renegotiations if the U.S. decides to do so, Reuters reported Thursday.

According to a CBC report Wednesday, Canadian sources say President Donald Trump will jettison the NAFTA talks scheduled to begin in Montreal on Jan. 23. That would also mean the end of Mexico’s participation in the process.

“I think it’s indisputable that if Trump announces a U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA, well at that moment the negotiations stop,” said Raul Urteaga, Mexico’s agricultural trade emissary.

Canada’s foreign affairs minister said Thursday that Trump’s ongong bluster on NAFTA cannot be dismissed as merely a bargaining technique. Chrystia Freeland also held out hope that the Canadian negotiating team would have some surprises to keep the talks alive.

“The United States has been very clear since before the talks started that…[withdrawal] was a possibility and I think we need to take our neighbors at their word, take them seriously, and so Canada is prepared for every eventuality,” Freeland told reporters as she headed for a cabinet meeting in London, Ontario.

Even if the U.S. withdraws from the NAFTA talks it is unclear whether that would necessitate its participation in NAFTA or if the original deal would automatically die a legislative death. The U.S. could also initiate bilateral trade talks with either Canada or Mexico.

Urteaga, a veteran of the original NAFTA negotiations, said Trump is sending out mixed signals on the trade deal of late, referencing the president’s recent speech to the American Farm Bureau that was free of anti-NAFTA talk.

“No news, means good news sometimes,” Urteaga told Reuters.

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