Mexico's economy secretary said Tuesday his country could leave the North American Free Trade Agreement if talks on renegotiating it are unsatisfactory.
Ildefonso Guajardo told the Televisa network that his country will be in a weak position at talks with U.S. President Donald Trump unless Mexico makes it clear it won't accept just anything in order to preserve the three-nation trade pact.
“It would be impossible to sell something here at home unless it has clear benefits for Mexico,” Guajardo said. “If we are going to go for something that is less than what we have, it makes no sense to stay.”
Trump has pledged to renegotiate the pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada and slap tariffs on imports.
While Mexico runs a trade surplus with the United States, many sectors in the country also want greater restrictions on U.S. imports, particularly farm products that many say have helped impoverish subsistence-level Mexican farmers.
Guajardo also repeated Mexican insistence that it will not pay for a border wall that Trump has promised to build, and said it would not accept any tax or restrictions on the money sent home by Mexican migrants.
He also said that “in the case that there are deportations [of Mexican migrants], as there have been, they have to be orderly and clearly defined.”
Trump suggested during his campaign that he would step up deportations of migrants living illegally in the United States.
Remittances amount to about $25 billion annually and have become a major source of foreign revenue for the country. Trump has suggested that the U.S. might retain some of that money to help pay for a wall between the countries.
Trump announced Monday that he has set up meetings with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, saying “We're going to start some negotiations having to do with NAFTA.”
Pena Nieto said he is ready to negotiate at a planned Jan. 31 meeting with Trump, and sought to chart a middle course.
“Neither confrontation nor submission. Dialogue is the solution,” Pena Nieto said Monday.