MEXICO CITY Ė President Donald Trumpís remarks indicating he would likely withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement at some point are a mere negotiating ploy and unsurprising, Mexicoís foreign relations secretary said Wednesday.
ďWe see very clearly that itís a negotiating ploy. Heís a man whoís been negotiating with a very peculiar style his whole life,Ē Luis Videgaray said in an interview with Radio Formula.
Trump has repeatedly criticized NAFTA, saying it has led to massive US job losses, provided incentives for companies to relocate their operations to Mexico in search of cheaper labor and caused the USís trade deficit with its southern neighbor to soar.
He doubled down on that criticism Tuesday, two days after the end of the first round of a process aimed at reworking the deal, saying at a rally before his supporters in Phoenix, Arizona, that he would probably end up terminating NAFTA eventually.
ďAnd I must be honest ... Personally, I donít think we can make a deal. Because we have been so badly taken advantage of. They have made such great deals, both of the countries but in particular Mexico, that I donít think we can make a deal,Ē Trump said about the trade agreement linking the US, Canada and Mexico that took effect in 1994.
Videgaray, however, shrugged off the remarks and attributed them to Trumpís typical campaign-style rhetoric.
He said there was no cause for concern because US participants in the talks were negotiating in a very clear fashion, adding that if the US had wanted to withdraw from NAFTA it would not have waited for renegotiation talks to begin.
In the first round of talks, which took place from Aug. 16-20 in Washington DC, US negotiators said NAFTA had failed many Americans and insisted on more than just cosmetic changes.
Mexico and Canada, by contrast, gave a much more positive assessment of the trade deal.
The negotiators, who are aiming to reach a deal by the start of 2018, will hold their next round of talks from Sept. 1-5 in Mexico City.