How Mexico Views The Pending Renegotiation Of NAFTA

Gerónimo Gutiérrez, Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S., says NAFTA could be improved, but he argues it’s benefited the U.S. at least as much as it has his country. And he says President Trump’s rhetoric on the pact is hurting business investment across North America.


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Amb. Geronimo Gutierrez
Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Gerónimo Gutiérrez

The United States, Mexico, and Canada could begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as early as August. President Trump is still leaving the door open to a U.S. withdrawal from the pact.

"If I'm unable to make a fair deal for the United States, meaning a fair deal for our workers and our companies, I will terminate NAFTA, but we're going to give renegotiation a good, strong shot," said Trump in April, shortly after he'd spoken with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

To get the Mexican government's view, News 88.7 spoke with its ambassador to the U.S, Gerónimo Gutiérrez, following his recent address to the World Affairs Council Houston.

Interview Highlights:

What are Mexico's general principles for renegotiating NAFTA?

"We need to sit down and improve NAFTA and modernize NAFTA, but we need to come, I think, from the notion and the recognition that NAFTA has been beneficial for the three partners...it has helped create wealth, and it has helped create employment in the three countries. Have certain firms and industries suffered? Yes, that's what free trade involves, but by and large and on balance, [it] has been successful...Over the last 23 years, we have created supply chains that are the backbone of North American competitiveness and that we should safeguard...The [Trump] administration here has expressed that it wants free and fair trade, and that's precisely what we're for."

How has President Trump's rhetoric about NAFTA affected the Mexican economy?

"There is uncertainty in the three countries about what will happen with NAFTA. In our view, there's important investments that are delayed in Mexico, the United States, and Canada as a result of that uncertainty. That's why we have expressed that we think we should try to wrap this up as soon as possible, hopefully this year."

Mexico will hold its own presidential election in just over a year's time. How are the strains in the U.S.-Mexico relationship likely to shape the campaign?

"There is a poll...that is conducted by a university in Mexico, and they have been doing that for the past, around, ten years, and that poll measures the attitudes of Mexicans towards other countries and world affairs in general. And that poll asks a question, ‘Do you trust the United States?'...The percentage of Mexicans...that were distrustful of the United States had been consistently declining over the years. We were, I think, at 11 percent by the end of last year. And that number has unfortunately grown significantly, up to, I think, 44 percent, if I'm not mistaken...And the tendency to use affairs with the United States as part of the electoral campaign is always there. A politician might very well try to get...a few electoral points banging on the relationship of the United States and Mexico. I don't think that's wise. I don't think that benefits Mexico. I don't think that benefits the United States, and certainly not the bilateral relationship.”

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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