China beckons for Canada and Mexico in face of U.S. uncertainty

By Elliot Bullman

The uncertainty caused by the Trump administration means Mexico and Canada need to look towards new non-American markets, including China, to grow their economies, says Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, Mexico's minister of tourism.

De la Madrid Cordero was in Ottawa for meetings with the federal Liberals this past week as the two countries continue to grapple with the possibility of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement later this year with U.S. protectionists who have lashed out publicly at both continental partners.

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In his speech lastThursday in Mexico City, Canada's central bank governor Stephen Poloz notedthat the vast majority of Canadian and Mexican imports last year went to the U.S.— Canada shipped 75 per cent south, while Mexico sent 81 per cent north.

De la Madrid Cordero said Mexico is trying to diversify by looking to Canada, Latin America, Europe and China.

"Our trade with China is impressive, and we do not have a free trade agreement," de la Madrid Cordero said, noting the $60 billion in two-way trade between the two countries.

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De la Madrid Cordero also suggested the clock is working against the likelihood of a sweeping overhaul of NAFTA. But he said: "There are areas of opportunity for modernizing this trade agreement."

The timing of Mexico's July 2018 presidential election, combined with the mandatory consultation period in the U.S. means there's short window, essentially three months at the end of this year, to make changes to NAFTA.

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