Mexico’s interior minister and the US Homeland Security chief agreed to meet “soon” in Mexico City, officials said as bilateral ties hit new lows over US plans for a border wall. In a telephone call, Mexico’s Miguel Angel Osorio Chong and US Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly discussed “progress that has been made on guaranteeing the safety and well-being of people on both sides of the border,” a Mexican statement read. The Mexican Interior Ministry’s update assessment, which declined to provide a date for the upcoming meeting in Mexico’s capital, belies the fact that the North American neighbors are having their worst bilateral row in decades. After insulting Mexicans on the campaign trail, US President Donald Trump continues to insist that he will have Mexico pay to build a wall on the US-Mexican border.
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On the economic front, Trump also wants to renegotiate NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, governing trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States. Trump made the loss of US factory jobs to Mexico under NAFTA a key campaign, and now policy, focus. Given Trump’s protectionist threats, Mexico is looking to expand trade ties with Europe and Asia, but reducing its dependence on the massive US market will be tough.
Mexico and the European Union have agreed to speed up negotiations to modernize an existing free trade pact in which USD 57 billion in goods were exchanged in 2015. At the same time, the government said it planned to negotiate a free trade agreement with Britain once it exits the European Union.
Some 80 per cent of Mexico’s exports go to its northern neighbor, and many of those goods are made with parts from the United States, highlighting how much the two nations’ industries are intertwined. Two-way trade between Mexico and the United States totals around half a trillion dollars per year, four times more than the Latin American nation’s combined business with China and the EU.