Mexico strikes new free trade deal with Europe

As Mexico continues to struggle through NAFTA renegotiations with the U.S. and Canada, it is making headway elsewhere. Mexico just came to an agreement with the European Union on a more extensive free trade partnership.

Following two years of negotiation, Mexico and the European Union have reached agreement on a new free trade deal. An update to the existing deal, the new accord is a major coup for Mexico. Its success comes as efforts to renegotiate NAFTA with the United States and Canada drag on.

Those involved in the European negotiations said the result sends a positive message to the international community.

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“I don’t know how they read this in the US, but I think globally it sends a signal, with increasing production in certain parts of the world that many of us do believe that good trade agreements can be made, they can be win-win, and you can make them in a sustainable, fair way to the benefit of consumers and companies,” Cecilia Malmstrom, the European Commissioner for Trade said.

Guy Berges hopes his business will benefit from the new deal. He runs a French-themed cocktail bar in Mexico City, and said the cost of importing from Europe has been prohibitive.

“An absinthe would be fifty Euros in Europe, here it’s like one hundred Euros, because of importation costs, so on the small-scale it’s really prohibitive,” Berges said. “At the moment we wanted to distribute it to other bars and liquor stores, but it’s really impossible because it’s too expensive, so hopefully we can lower the price of importation with the new deal.”

Oscar Leon is a professor of international trade at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, and says the deal is mutually beneficial.

“This is also a very good thing for the European Union,” Professor Leon said. “Trump’s arrival in the White House caused an interruption in the ongoing Trans-Atlantic talks, and as a result, the Europeans have focused their energies on other markets, including Japan, India and Mexico.”

With the new Trans-Pacific Partnership deal wrapped up and agreement reached on European free trade, Mexico is in a far stronger position than when the NAFTA re-negotiations began last year.

Yet with eighty percent of this country’s exports still going to the United States, the missing piece of a trade deal trifecta remains a concern.