Potential China-Mexico FTA could boost free trade amid rising tide of protectionism

By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/6 21:43:39

It is time for China and Mexico, which are currently seeking trading partners amid the rising tide of protectionism and anti-globalization, to start contemplating a free trade agreement (FTA), especially after a Chinese official expressed China's willingness to negotiate such a deal with Mexico.

"Mexico is China's second-largest trading partner in Latin America and China is Mexico's second-largest trading partner in the world. This is a highly important relationship and we have great interest in deepening and broadening these ties," Qiu Xiaoqi, China's ambassador to Mexico, was quoted as saying in a recent report by the Xinhua News Agency.

While China is always open to discuss the issue with the Mexican government, no action has been taken so far, Qiu stated, adding that there is no unwillingness on China's side to begin FTA negotiations, according to the report.

Qiu's comments could be seen as a boost for Mexico, which has reportedly been seeking new alliances with economies other than its traditional partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). According to media reports, the US, Mexico and Canada will start renegotiating NAFTA, a trade deal that US President Donald Trump has threatened to rewrite or withdraw from.

By threatening potential protectionism measures, Trump may have just created the right conditions and opportunities for China and Mexico to build stronger trade ties, and it is in the best interests of both parties to seize the opportunity to facilitate talks over an FTA.

Some critics said that it could be just a political gesture for China and Mexico to start FTA talks given their bilateral trade value of merely $43 billion last year. Yet, a China-Mexico FTA, if it comes about, would carry much more significant meaning in fighting protectionism. Both countries are important developing economies and members of the G20, and Mexico is a member of the Pacific Alliance - which also includes Chile, Colombia and Peru - a trade bloc that has been looking to expand free trade with Asian economies.

As such, a free trade deal would not only enhance the trade ties between China and Mexico, but would also be a great inspiration for other economies that are seeking free trade alternatives amid the rising anti-globalization sentiment.

Of course there will be a lot of obstacles ahead, but any step in this direction should be considered progress toward promoting free trade.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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