By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Mexican Foreign Relations (SRE) Secretary Luis Videgaray spoke by phone with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Saturday, Oct. 13, to assure Beijing that the newly drafted United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will in no way impede economic relations with other countries, according to an SRE press release.
The new USMCA, which, if approved by the congresses of all three participating nations, will replace the current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), stipulates that should one of the partners sign a free-trade accord with a separate, non-market nation such as China, that country could be ousted from the pact.
During the hour-long phone call, Videgaray told Wang that this provision will not hamper Mexico’s longstanding binational relations with China, either commercially or economically.
Currently, combined two-way trade between Mexico and China amounts to $80.8 billion, according to Mexican government figures, making China Mexico’s second-largest import partner and fourth-largest export market.
Chinese companies also have more than $4 billion in investment projects in Mexico, most of which were launched over the course of the last four years as a result of a $1.2 billion China-Mexico Fund created in 2014 to spur investment in Mexican companies through joint-venture projects.
The USMCA clause limiting trade accords with nonmember nations was included in the agreement at the insistence of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, specifically as part of an ongoing campaign by Washington to isolate China amid an escalating trade war between the two economic powerhouses.
Shortly after his July 1 electoral victory, Mexico’s new president-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), whose representatives participated in the initial drafting of the USMCA, met personally with Chinese Ambassador to Mexico Qui Xiaoqi, but the details of that meeting were not made public.