The trilateral negotiations on the conditions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) may open the market of Mexico for Australia and contribute to the improvement of Canberra's trade ties with Ottawa, Australian Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steven Ciobo said.
On Sunday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo ended the five-day first round of talks on the modernization of the NAFTA trade pact in Washington.
"I’ll lead a delegation to Mexico at the start of October because I do think we can really be on the front foot of what is a very big market. I want to make sure we can capitalise on that opportunity… There are clearly opportunities for us to improve trading relationships with Mexico (and) Canada. We don’t have an FTA [free trade agreement] in place with either … but negotiations with the Pacific Alliance, which includes Mexico, provide an opportunity," Ciobo said on Sunday, as quoted by The Australian newspaper.
The Office of the US Trade Representative said Wednesday that the sides’ domestic consultations would proceed until the end of August and the second round of negotiations would take place on September 1-5 in Mexico.
US President Donald Trump raised the issue of the necessity to review terms of 23-year-old NAFTA deal and the possibility of exiting it to cut trade deficit, which resulted in factories' closure and job losses, and to ensure fair trade yet during his presidential campaign in 2016.
In January, Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement with 11 Asia-Pacific nations, prompting Canberra to seek review of the deal. In early July, Australia and New Zealand launched free trade talks with Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia.