WASHINGTON – Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray on Wednesday emphasized that his country will not negotiate “NAFTA or any other issue in the bilateral relationship” in the media or on the social networks, adding that he is committed to “serious” negotiations via the “established process.”
Videgaray made his remarks concerning the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement – which US President Donald Trump has insisted must be renegotiated – after emerging from his meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department
The Mexican official said that he agreed with Tillerson “to continue with the NAFTA negotiations, which have a structured and established procedure,” adding that Mexico will do so with a “serious” point of view.
Videgaray took the opportunity to reply to recent comments by Trump that he might pull the US out of NAFTA, the terms of which Washington is presently renegotiating with Canada and Mexico, and to the president’s insistence that the US southern neighbor pay for the controversial border wall he has virtually staked his political reputation upon.
“We don’t believe it would be the correct route, or a viable route, to rescind the treaty just as we’re in a process of renegotiation,” said Videgaray, adding that the Mexican government’s approach will always be respectful, constructive and designed to safeguard its own national interests.
In response to reporters’ questions about whether Mexico would continue to negotiate on NAFTA if Trump unilaterally rescinded the agreement, Videgaray reportedly responded, “No,” adding that “renegotiation is not a simple process, on the contrary, it’s a complex process.”
Trump had said at a White House press conference on Monday that “One way or the other Mexico will pay for the wall,” adding that although the wall might initially be paid for by the US, “ultimately” Mexico will wind up footing the bill.
Trump made his remarks on Mexico despite the fact that the governments of the two countries had agreed not to bring up the matter again in public after a diplomatic crisis erupted on the subject that led to the cancellation of a visit to Washington by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Videgaray, who traveled to Washington with Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo, said that he had also met with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and White House National Security adviser H.R. McMaster.
The second round of NAFTA negotiations will take place on Friday in Mexico, and Videgaray said that “if the result of the negotiations is not beneficial for Mexico, of course we’re not going to continue (with them).”
But he went on to say that “we believe we can arrive at a good (result) for Mexico and for the other parties.”
Trump has called NAFTA, implemented in 1994, a “disaster” for the US economy, blaming the treaty for leading to the transfer of thousands of jobs from the US to Mexico.