EU and Mexico agree to speed up trade talks

The European Union and Mexico have agreed to accelerate trade talks, with two negotiating rounds scheduled to take place over the next five months towards a reformed free trade agreement.

The dates of the upcoming rounds – 3-7 April and 26-29 June – were agreed by the EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, and the Minister of Economy of Mexico, Ildefonso Guajardo. As part of the new schedule, the two also agreed to meet in Mexico City between the rounds to take stock and push negotiators for further progress.

“We will take our trade relations fully into the 21st Century,” Cecilia Malmström and Guajardo said in a joint statement. “We will be able to boost growth, making our firms more competitive and widening choices for consumers while creating jobs.

“We are witnessing the worrying rise of protectionism around the world. Side by side, as like-minded partners, we must now stand up for the idea of global, open cooperation. We are already well underway in our joint efforts to deepen openness to trade on both sides. Now, we will accelerate the pace of these talks in order to reap the benefits sooner.”

Last year, the EU and Mexico initiated negotiations to update the existing Free Trade Agreement that dates back to 2000. However, they say global trade patterns have changed substantially during the past 16 years, pointing to the need for a broader and more far-reaching FTA.

The purpose of this modernising process is to better mirror other ambitious trade deals that the EU and Mexico have negotiated lately, they added.

Between 2005 and 2015, the yearly trade flow of goods between the two partners more than doubled, from €26 bn ($27.7 bn) to €53 bn, against the backdrop of the existing Free Trade Agreement.

The timing of the talks comes as US President Trump says he wants to either renegotiate or replace the  North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deal between the US, Mexico and Canada.