NAFTA negotiators seek to enshrine Mexico

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – U.S., Canadian and Mexican negotiators are zeroing in on ways to enshrine Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s sweeping energy reforms into a updated North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico’s chief negotiator said on Saturday.

Mexico’s Smith stated no specific proposals had been put on the table by U.S. negotiators regarding rules of origin.

Trade negotiators from the three countries are working through the weekend in Mexico City to provide more proposals to revamp NAFTA, an accord that underpins over $1.2 trillion in annual cross-border trade.

Smith, speaking to reporters as he walked side-by-side with his counterparts John Melle of the United States and Steve Verheul of Canada, added that negotiators would “search for mechanisms that allow us to integrate ourselves in a positive way in the energy industry.”
Pena Nieto, in his yearly speech to the nation on Saturday, defended free trade and young migrants in the USA, saying his government would not accept insults against “national dignity” from Trump’s government.

“The relationship with the new government of the USA, like any other nation, must be determined by irrevocable principles: sovereignty, protection of the national interest and security of our migrants,” Pena Nieto said.

Trade experts both in the USA and Mexico have said that raising energy trade and investments through NAFTA would decrease the $64 billion U.S. trade deficit with Mexico that irritates U.S. President Donald Trump, partly through increased U.S. gas and oilfield equipment sales to Mexico.
Leading Mexican officials said Latin America’s No. 2 economy would walk away from negotiations if Trump proceeds to withdraw from the offer.

A NAFTA banner is envisioned where the second round of NAFTA talks involving the United States, Mexico and Canada is taking place in Mexico City, Mexico September 1, 2017.
Additional reporting by Adriana Barrera and David Lawder; Writing by David Lawder and Michael O’Boyle; Editing by Bill Trott and Lisa Von Ahn
Pena Nieto said Mexico would continue to defend NAFTA as a vehicle to integrate the region.
When NAFTA was enacted in 1994, Mexico’s energy industry was closed and Pena Nieto’s reforms ended a decades-long monopoly for national oil company Pemex [PEMX.UL] and ensured competitive oil auctions. Incorporating them would help protect them.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to rip NAFTA up, warning this week, that he could do.

“The negotiating team has precise instructions to participate in this process with seriousness, great faith and a constructive spirit,” he said, “always putting first the attention of Mexico while reaching for a result where all three countries win.”

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“We won’t accept anything that goes against our national dignity,” he told a bunch of politicians and the country’s elite, who climbed at the point to deliver the most vigorous standing ovation of his speech.
Negotiators were going to take until Monday to get to one of the thorniest issues, U.S. demands for increased North American and U.S. articles for autos and other manufactured goods, according to a schedule seen by Reuters.

Published at Sun, 03 Sep 2017 02:53:37 +0000
The 2014 reforms integrating them into the 23-year-old NAFTA, opening it up to private investment, and wrung management of the country’s oil and gas industry out of state hands is seen as a way to help preserve them.

Pena Nieto shied away from mentioning the wall but said Mexico would promote the recognition of migrants for their gifts and reject discrimination.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to pull out of NAFTA if talks do not go his way and on Saturday said he would talk next week with his advisers whether to withdraw that he has also criticized.

“We’re working in this particular sense, analyzing each of the elements that will need to be included in the energy discussion to reflect the reform Mexico established,” Mexico’s chief trade negotiator, Kenneth Smith, said on Saturday following a bargaining session in the second round of NAFTA modernization talks.
Trump this week also insisted again that Mexico would eventually pay for his proposed wall on the southern U.S. boundary to block the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs.