U.S., Mex­i­can busi­ness lead­ers say no NAFTA bet­ter than bad deal

Stabroek News - - REGIONAL NEWS -

MEX­ICO CITY, (Reuters) - U.S. and Mex­i­can CEOs gath­ered in Mex­ico City yes­ter­day said it would be bet­ter to live with no North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment than be sad­dled with a bad deal, as in­dus­try braces for the end of a treaty that drives $1 tril­lion in an­nual trade.

The CEO meet­ing ran in par­al­lel to talks near Washington aimed at re­fresh­ing the 1994 agree­ment, with Mex­ico, Canada and busi­nesses united in op­po­si­tion to a num­ber of rad­i­cal U.S. pro­pos­als they say would dam­age the North Amer­i­can econ­omy.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said yes­ter­day he would be open to bi­lat­eral trade pacts with Mex­ico or Canada if a deal can­not be reached to sub­stan­tially re­vise NAFTA.

“We are all much worse off with a bad agree­ment than with no agree­ment,” said Guillermo Vo­gel, who cochaired the Mex­ico City event and is a vice pres­i­dent at Te­naris, a steel com­pany.

The meet­ing, part of a bi­lat­eral “CEO di­a­logue” that meets a cou­ple of times each year, in­cluded a closed-door dis­cus­sion on the NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tions ad­dressed by For­eign Min­is­ter Luis Vide­garay and Econ­omy Min­is­ter Idel­fonso Gua­jardo, who are in charge of the ne­go­ti­a­tions for Mex­ico.

On the U.S. side the event was co-chaired by Fedex’s CEO Michael Ducker and U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce Pres­i­dent Thomas Dono­hue.

The event’s or­ga­niz­ers de­clined to say who else at­tended. Amer­i­can Ex­press, AT&T, GM and Delta were listed on pub­lic­ity ma­te­rial for an event hosted by the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce in Mex­ico on Tues­day, where Dono­hue warned that sev­eral U.S. pro­pos­als in the NAFTA talks were “poi­son pills” that risked doom­ing the agree­ment.

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