Mexican official: We could leave NAFTA ‘if there are no clear benefits’

Mexican official: We could leave NAFTA ‘if there are no clear benefits’
© Getty Images

Mexico is willing to leave the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if negotiations with the United States go sour, the Mexican secretary of the Economy said Tuesday.

"If there are no clear benefits [for Mexico], there is no sense in staying," Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal told the Televisa network.

Guajardo, one of the original negotiators of NAFTA, will attend meetings with top White House officials this week, along with Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray.


President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Carolina Senate passes trio of election measures 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos MORE vowed to renegotiate or withdraw from NAFTA on the campaign trail, calling it the "worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere."

He reiterated his pledge on Sunday, saying, “We’re going to start renegotiating, having to do with NAFTA.”

The prospect of an American withdrawal from NAFTA has already rattled Mexican markets, with the peso losing about 15 percent of its value to the dollar since the election.

Although the Mexican economy depends on NAFTA to a much greater degree than the United States’ economy, Guajardo said Mexico has enough ammunition to seek a positive result at the negotiating table.

"One can't sit at the table without ammunition to play," he said earlier this month.

Guajardo said Mexico would approach the negotiation seeking to "build a solution."

Although he viewed speedy renegotiation as a net positive, Guajardo said the reality of trade negotiations would stabilize the process.

Trump "has understood that the authorization that Congress gives defines exact timing and movement, because to negotiate first he needs authorization from members, he then has 90 days to lobby and only then can he enact changes," Guajardo said.

Guajardo said negotiations should yield a win-win situation, but Mexico is ready to pull out of the agreement if necessary.

"We can't prevent them from building the wall on their side of the border, but if they want to make us pay for the wall or if they try to stop remittances, Mexico will leave the table," he said.