Trump’s ‘America First’ catalyses renewed EU-Mexico trade interest

The Mexican parliament. [Shutterstock]

The European Union and Mexico have scheduled two new rounds of trade talks in the first half of 2017, an acceleration of negotiations intended to deepen economic ties in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president.

The European Commission said today (1 February) that EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo had scheduled subsequent rounds for 3-7 April and 26-29 June.

“Together, we are witnessing the worrying rise of protectionism around the world. Side by side, as like-minded partners, we must now stand up for the idea of global, open cooperation,” the two said in a joint statement.

Brexit casts doubts on EU-Mexico agreement

The Senate of the Republic of Mexico has warned that Brexit could delay the planned update of the Global Agreement between the Central American country and the EU. EURACTIV Spain reports.

European leaders have said Brussels should take advantage of a more protectionist US leader, who has already withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, to step up negotiations with would-be partners.

Mexico faces the prospect of a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and possibly higher US import duties.

Mexico’s former president, Vicente Fox, has clashed with Trump on social media throughout the billionaire’s campaign and since his inauguration as president, insisting Mexico will not pay for a wall on its border. He also called the new Commander-in-Chief “a child”.

The EU and Mexico have a free trade pact dating from 2000 that they began to update last year, holding talks in June and November.

The EU has said a new deal would seek to include public tenders, trade in energy products and raw materials, broader protection of intellectual property, more flexible rules on what products can benefit from lower customs tariffs and greater benefits for smaller companies.

It could also lead to more liberalised trade in meat, dairy products, cereals and certain fruits and vegetables.

The European Union is Mexico’s third largest trading partner after the United States and China. EU-Mexico trade in goods more than doubled from 2000 to 53 billion euros ($57.23 billion) in 2015.

The EU is particularly focused on trade deals with Asian countries, including those that had signed up to the TPP before Trump entered office.

Europe moves to pick up free trade scraps as Trump ditches TPP

President Donald Trump signed an executive order formally withdrawing the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal yesterday (23 January) as Europe sniffed a chance to pick up the free trade the US is turning its back on.

Commenting, Guy Verhofstadt, President of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament said: "I strongly welcome the initiative of Cecilia Malmström to accelerate trade talks between the EU and Mexico. This is the perfect response to Trump's protectionism. In a changing world order, the EU must be bold in searching for new trading markets and opportunities in order to preserve jobs and prosperity in Europe."

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