MEXICO CITY – Kenneth Smith Ramos will be the chief technical negotiator and Salvador Behar Lavalle will be the chief adjunct negotiator for Mexico in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Canada, Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo said.
The first round of talks on updating NAFTA, which took effect on Jan. 1, 1994, will be held Aug. 16-20 in Washington.
Smith and Behar will be responsible for managing the Economy Secretariat team representing Mexico, as well as personnel from the agencies providing support services.
The NAFTA renegotiation will be handled by the Foreign Trade Undersecretariat along with other talks ordered by President Enrique Peña Nieto to diversify foreign trade, attract more investment and expand Mexico’s presence around the world.
Negotiators from the three countries will interact at different levels, the Economy Secretariat said in a statement.
The chief negotiators will be responsible for talks at the technical level, while undersecretaries or officials with an equivalent rank will deal with other negotiating issues.
Cabinet secretaries and ministers from the three NAFTA member countries will be in charge of setting strategy.
Mexican officials expect the talks to be difficult because US President Donald Trump has blamed free trade agreements for the loss of millions of US manufacturing jobs.
Trump has vowed to take action against countries like China and Mexico that he contends engage in unfair trade practices that have led to job losses.
On Jan. 23, his first official work day in the White House, Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade and economic agreement involving 11 other nations.
Washington has said that it wants to revise NAFTA to reduce the US trade deficit and gain greater access to the Mexican and Canadian markets.