Canadian Manufacturing

No gracias: Mexico brushes off idea of breaking NAFTA into separate deals

The country's chief negotiator dismissed the possibility of giving up on the three-party process after comments from U.S. trade rep Robert Lighthizer muddied the waters for a trilateral deal

February 9, 2018  by The Canadian Press

The trilateral trade agreement has been in place for more than two decades. PHOTO: Fotolia

WASHINGTON—Mexico’s chief NAFTA negotiator is brushing off the idea of breaking the three-country agreement into separate one-on-one deals.

Kenneth Smith Ramos is using Twitter to argue for the merits of a trilateral NAFTA.

He said that gives it strength.

He made the statement a day after a confusing sequence of events in the U.S. capital.


After a Capitol Hill meeting between U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer and American lawmakers, one of them left the meeting and said Lighthizer floated the idea of two NAFTA negotiations: A quick one with Mexico and one later with Canada which Lighthizer described as more difficult.

After three other lawmakers refused to confirm or deny what Lighthizer said and he wouldn’t comment, his office eventually reiterated support for a three-country NAFTA.

The idea of separate negotiations appeared to hold little interest for Mexico in any case.

”The strength of NAFTA comes from its trilateral nature: a region working together in order to compete effectively with the rest of the world,” Smith Ramos tweeted Thursday.

”NAFTA has strengthened supply chains across (North America) in key sectors such as autos, aerospace, and (agriculture) among others, benefiting (all three countries).”

The U.S. is increasingly expressing frustration with Canada in the negotiations—not Mexico. While the southern neighbour was the original target of most complaints from the Trump administration, it’s been riled by the northern neighbour’s negotiating tactics.