/ Modified jul 5, 2017 2:50 p.m.

Mexico Urged To Think Big In NAFTA Talks

Officials there are urging a push for a deal that would benefit all three nations and increase competitiveness.

Mexico City Zocalo Hero The cathedral in the Zócalo, or central plaza, of Mexico City. (PHOTO: Jeff Kramer via Wikimedia Commons)

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MEXICO CITY – Former top Mexican officials are urging their government to push for an ambitious upgrade in trade negotiations with the United States and Canada later this year.

Mexican government officials should push for an ambitious upgrade of the North American Free Trade Agreement in which manufacturing, energy and infrastructure are integrated to boost competitiveness with Asia and Europe, according to a new report by some of the country’s top former diplomats and academics. 

Mexican officials should seek to establish common objectives with the United States and Canada in trade negotiations — which could start as early as mid-August — to the benefit of not one of the three countries, but all three, the report published by the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations says. 

"This implies abandoning President Trump’s original idea that the United States has lost in the treaty and that it’s necessary to re-balance it only for its benefit," the report says. "What Mexico can accept is a renegotiation of NAFTA that makes North America a more open and competitive region." 

The report identifies several new sectors that weren’t included in the original agreement: energy, “single window” processing for some paperwork, transport and logistics integration, expansion of the North American Development Bank and medical tourism. 

Negotiations should take into account the countries’ overall relationship beyond trade, said Agustin Barrios Gomez, coordinator of the Council on Foreign Relations’ U.S.-Mexico group and a former congressman with the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution. Mexico has long been an ally in helping the United States protect its national security interests, he said. 

"What we're telling the Mexican government is that it's time to stop compartmentalizing and to understand that we need to look at the relationship as a whole," Barrios Gomez said. "If you're going to put NAFTA on the chopping block, then we're going to have to talk about security cooperation because we can't be allies if we can't be friends."

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