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Mexico Tries to Use APEC  Meeting to Boost Its Stature - 2002-10-25


In the beachfront resort area near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, officials from 21 Pacific Rim nations are taking part in the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC). The host of the event, Mexican President Vicente Fox, is using the occasion to boost his country's stature on the international stage and to propose an improvement in relations with the United States.

In his appearances here at the APEC meeting, President Fox has emphasized the benefits of free trade and the benefits he says his country has obtained by being part of this Pacific Rim forum.

He says Mexico's exports to the Asian-Pacific region have benefited from his country's participation in APEC. He says Mexican exporters now have a more secure relationship with other nations in the region and face fewer obstacles in their efforts to export products.

Mr. Fox says expanding trade within the APEC region is vital.

Mexico has complained that China dumps cheap products on the Mexican market, while mounting barriers to the entry of some Mexican goods. This is a subject that is expected to be addressed in meetings between representatives of the two nations at this event.

Mexico also seeks a better relationship with its powerful neighbor to the north, the United States. In the week before the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, President Fox was in Washington discussing an agreement by which millions of Mexican workers could have temporary legal status in the United States. That idea was set aside after the terrorist attacks because the U.S. priority became security on the border.

But President Fox says he wants to revive those discussions this weekend in private conversations with President Bush. He also hopes to persuade Mr. Bush to modify the U.S. policy of providing large subsidies to agricultural producers. This, Mr. Fox contends, goes against the spirit of free trade and hurts Mexico's agricultural sector.

Also this weekend, President Fox plans to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to discuss a possible free trade agreement with his nation. Heads of state have already begun arriving here at this resort on the tip of the Baja California peninsula for the summit meeting that takes place Saturday and Sunday. President Bush is to arrive on Saturday.

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