The former president of Mexico believes Canada forced Mexico to go it alone in the NAFTA fight with Trump

  • Business Insider spoke to former Mexican President Vicente Fox about the recent renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
  • Fox said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s stance that he would do whatever what was in the best interest of Canada – regardless of Mexico’s interests – may have sacrificed the chance for Canada and Mexico to work together.
  • Mexico ultimately made a bilateral agreement with US on key issues without Canada.
  • Now Canada is under pressure to make a deal after President Donald Trump threatened to move on from NAFTA and go forward with just the bilateral US-Mexico agreement.
  • Fox suggested that Trudeau make a deal to stay in NAFTA, even “if you have to sacrifice a little bit.”

Mexico’s former president thinks Canada left Mexico out to dry in the recent North American Free Trade Agreement talks, and now it’s coming back to bite them.

In an interview with Business Insider, former Mexican President Vicente Fox said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vehemently pro-Canada stance forced Mexico to go it alone in NAFTA talks with President Donald Trump.

“Well, I remember, originally, Prime Minister Trudeau expressed it publicly,” Fox said. “His position saying that he would always look after the interests of Canada no matter what would happen to Mexico, that he would even sacrifice having a joint position with Mexico in favour of Canada.”

Talks to renegotiate NAFTA – the 26-year-old trilateral trade deal that includes Canada, Mexico, the the US – began in August 2017. But after nearly a year of fairly unproductive talks, the Mexican government began negotiating with the US one-on-one in July.

The intense bilateral talks led to a breakthrough deal between the US and Mexico on August 27, leaving Canada under pressure to work out their own end of a deal.

“Now in the very end, it resulted in the opposite,” Fox said. “Mexico finally ended up coming to an agreement with the United States and Canada stayed out.”

Since signing the US-Mexico deal,Trump has threatened to move forward without Canada in the agreement – though such a manoeuvre may be legally dubious. It has nevertheless placed pressure on the current bilateral talks between US and Canadian officials.

Fox, who was Mexico’s president from 2000 to 2006 and has been a fierce Trump critic, urged Trudeau to be open to negotiations with Trump and possibly give in on a few issues to keep the trilateral deal intact.

“My suggestion to Prime Minister Trudeau is go ahead, stay in NAFTA. If you have to sacrifice a little bit, if you have to make some concessions, do it,” Fox said. “Because NAFTA is so much more than just a few little things that can affect you.”

No breakthrough on NAFTA appears imminent, though all of its members insist that negotiations are productive.

For his part, Fox is hopeful all three sides can come out the other side of the at-times acrimonious negotiations with a new deal to keep the trading bloc together.

“The United States is also making concessions today,” he told Business Insider. “So it’s a deal, but it’s a win win. So I hope Canada stays in.”

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