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Mexico's Guajardo: US Anti-trade Shift Would Hit Global Economy Hard

Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo sits for an interview at the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, D.C., May 2, 2016.

The more protectionist trade policy being pushed by U.S. presidential candidates could deal a heavy blow to the global economy, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Monday.

While not naming candidates by name, Guajardo referred to a proposal by Republican front runner Donald Trump to levy a 35 percent tariff on many Mexican goods, which Guajardo said would violate global trade deals and spark "chaos" if enacted.

"It will mean that you are willing to depart and break with the world trading system," Guajardo told Reuters in an interview.

"If that is the case then the world is in trouble," added Guajardo, who was in Washington for meetings with U.S. and Canadian trade officials.

The United States is the world's largest economy and its trade partners are concerned by an anti-trade rhetoric that is "more intense" than normally seen in U.S. presidential campaigns, Guajardo said.

Trump and Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton both oppose a major trade deal with the Asia-Pacific region recently negotiated by the Obama administration.

Guajardo said it was unclear whether any of the candidates would follow through on their proposals if elected because trade wars would heavily damage U.S. exporters, including agriculture and auto parts companies which would lobby against a protectionist stance.

"Eventually they would start to speak," he said.