Mexico’s president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador released a letter Tuesday from U.S. President Donald Trump saying a NAFTA deal would need to happen fast or he would “go a much different route”.
“I believe a successful renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement will lead to even more jobs and higher wages for hard-working American and Mexican workers -- but only if it can go quickly. Otherwise, I must go a much different route,” Trump said in response to a letter delivered to him by a delegation of U.S. officials led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that visited Lopez Obrador in Mexico City on July 13.
“It would not be my preference but would be far more profitable for the United States and its taxpayers,” Trump added.
Lopez Obrador’s letter said Mexico wanted a relationship of “respect, friendship and focused on development cooperation”.
He also urged Trump to “step up efforts” to conclude NAFTA talks.
Outgoing Mexican President Peña Nieto, who remains in office until Dec. 1, has stated that his team in NAFTA negotiations would work together with Lopez Obrador’s.
NAFTA talks are scheduled to resume Thursday between Canada, Mexico and the U.S.
Lopez Obrador’s proposal on bilateral cooperation also focused on investment in Mexico to reduce migration.
Trump responded, saying: “We are prepared to further address the economic development and security issues that drive migration from Central America, but we must also increase cooperation to protect the rule of law and sovereignty of both our countries.”
Trump also said he “appreciated [the president-elect’s] focus on fighting corruption” and was 'ready to help' on the matter, which proved central in Lopez Obrador’s victory on July 1.
So far, the two heads of state have appeared to be moving toward a more positive relationship than Mexico and the U.S. have had under Peña Nieto. After what was deemed a 'friendly' call on the night of Lopez Obrador's election, Trump complimented him again Tuesday, saying both countries were talking about doing “something very dramatic'.
By Alix Hardy in Mexico City