Mexico sets out NAFTA goals ahead of re-negotiation talks - document

by Reuters
Tuesday, 1 August 2017 17:46 GMT

(Adds quote, adds details from document)

By Gabriel Stargardter

MEXICO CITY, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Mexico has set out its goals for an upcoming re-negotiation of the NAFTA trade accord, according to a document seen by Reuters on Tuesday, prioritizing free access for goods and services, greater labor market integration and a strengthening of energy security.

The economy ministry document, circulating in the Mexican senate and dated July, will serve as the basis for Mexico's position at the upcoming talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement. The talks between Canada, Mexico and the United States are due to start in Washington on Aug. 16.

"Our objective is to have an expedited negotiation that maintains the benefits that we have achieved during the lifespan of NAFTA, but which at the same time serves as a platform for the modernization of the treaty," the document says.

Mexico will seek to retain unimpeded access for goods and services in the NAFTA region, promote greater integration of North American labor markets and establish rules of origin to guarantee NAFTA's regional benefits, the document says.

Mexico, which is in the midst of implementing a historic opening of its oil, gas and power sectors, also wants to incorporate measures to reflect the transformation of the region's energy sector and strengthen regional energy security.

Furthermore, the document says, Mexico wants to bolster the dispute resolution mechanisms of NAFTA - a desire that is sure to raise eyebrows in the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which has sought to ditch the so-called Chapter 19 tool.

Under Chapter 19, binational panels hear complaints about illegal subsidies and dumping, and then issue binding decisions. The United States has frequently lost such cases since NAFTA came into effect in 1994.

The mechanism has hindered the United States from pursuing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases against Mexican and Canadian firms, and Canada, in particular, has expressed reservations about eliminating it from a new trade agreement.

Last week, Mexico's Congress backed a non-binding motion urging the government to reject the Trump administration's proposal to scrap Chapter 19.

According to the document, Mexico hopes to unify agricultural, animal and health safety regulations, to protect the intellectual property of domestic content producers and to forge measures for transparency and fighting graft.

There will also be a focus on capitalizing and strengthening the North American Development Bank, and efforts to consolidate the digital economy. Mexico also hopes to move ahead with the liberalization for services and investment, and support for small and medium-sized companies. (Editing by Alistair Bell)

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