Mexico, U.S. Express Cautious Optimism on NAFTA Deal

By Anthony Esposito and Lesley Wroughton

MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top U.S. and Mexican officials on Thursday expressed cautious optimism that the North American Free Trade Agreement will be renegotiated, speaking ahead of the next round of trade talks later this month.

Asked on local television whether it was more likely the $1.2 trillion trilateral trade pact would survive or die, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said there was cause for optimism, though Mexico should be prepared for all eventualities.

“We should be prepared for a future with or without NAFTA,” he said.

In Washington, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said it was a priority for the Trump administration to renegotiate NAFTA, declining to speculate on the consequences if the United States withdraws from talks.

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The seventh round of negotiations in Mexico City will take place Feb. 25 thru March 5, starting and ending a day earlier than initially planned.

There is a “window of opportunity” for concluding the talks in March or April, said Moises Kalach, head of the international negotiating arm of Mexico’s CCE business lobby.

“That’s the objective,” Kalach told reporters.

 

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