Amid a shake up of international trade deals, including an all but fatal blow to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and threats from Donald Trump to renegotiate or pull out completely of NAFTA, Mexico is looking to other parts of Latin America to secure future trade deals.
A delegation of Mexican representatives is taking part in talks in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this week with the hope of striking a deal by the end of this year.
Mexico’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade Juan Carlos Baker said that a deal could see Mexico sell cars to Argentina and the South American country could gain better access to Mexico’s large grain market where “Argentine exporters could find attractive conditions in Mexico.”
The U.S. remains Mexico’s biggest trading partner, which buys around 80 percent of Mexico’s exports. But under Trump, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has been in place since 1994, remains in limbo. The deal, which also includes Canada, lowers tariffs between the three countries.
Trump previously vowed to withdraw the U.S. from the deal if he cannot negotiate its terms, which he claims has ripped off U.S. industry and workers. Mexico too has signalled its intent to leave NAFTA if negotiations are seen against its interests. U.S. Congress requires 90 days notice before NAFTA talks for renegotiations to start.
Trump has also been continually pushing his “Buy American and Hire American” platform, which would increase the purchase of U.S. products through federal contracts.
In one of his first moves as president, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which was set to be the world's biggest trade deal spanning 12 countries, amounting to around one-third of global trade and around 40 percent of combined world GDP.
On Tuesday, Mexico's Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal said Mexico and other states that still support the TPP could go forward with “a TPP 11 instead of 12.” Australia and New Zealand have been key players in revamping the deal without the U.S. Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam are also signed up to the TPP.