Mexican Senators Lay Out Six 'Red Lines' for Nafta Renegotiation
By Robbie Whelan
MEXICO CITY -- A group of senators from Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party and its allies on Thursday laid out six "red lines" for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement which they said if crossed would lead them to reject a modified deal.
"The modernization [of Nafta] is going to come before the Senate, and for this reason we want to make our worries known," said Marcela Guerra, a senator from the border state of Nuevo León, one of Mexico's most industrialized states.
The comments come as Mexico, the U.S. and Canada prepare for a fourth round of trade talks next week in Washington, D.C., and appear to be an effort by Mexican lawmakers to ratchet up pressure on the U.S. on some of the more controversial issues likely to emerge in negotiations.
Ms. Guerra said the U.S. is being uncompromising in the trade talks and applying protectionist principles that Mexico doesn't share.
"We have a free-trade tradition that has worked for the last 24 years...Mexico is one of the most open countries in the world," Ms. Guerra said. "The Senate is not going to approve a deal that doesn't work for Mexico."
The senators said they won't accept a proposed "sunset provision" requiring that Nafta be revisited every five years, the elimination of tariff preferences for Mexican textiles, or rules requiring minimum levels of national content for the auto-manufacturing sector. They would also reject seasonal protections for U.S. growers against fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico, the elimination of the Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism, and a proposal that would allow the U.S. government to favor American suppliers in its procurement.
Most of the items have already been highlighted as problematic by Mexico's private sector and its negotiating team, and the senators emphasized that their comments were for the benefit of U.S. trade officials. "We want to send a message to Washington," Ms. Guerra said.
Under Mexican law, at least 65 of the country's 128 senators must vote to ratify any changes to Nafta for them to take effect. The PRI and its allies in the Green Party currently control 62 votes, and would only need to convince three senators from opposition parties.