Xinhua | March 15, 2007
Mexico, U.S. presidents promise to extend free trade
Presidents Felipe Calderon of Mexico and George W. Bush of the United States held a series of meetings on Wednesday, promising to extend the free trade agreement between the two nations.
Calderon told reporters after the talks that the two had agreed to set up working groups seeking a broader agreement, which will include sensitive products like corn and beans. Bush said that neither nation is seeking to weaken free trade, instead they are seeking to increase it and boost border security.
With Canada as a third partner, the three nations have been operating the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) since 1994. The U.S. is Mexico’s largest trading partner, while Mexico is the U.S.’s third largest partner, after China and Canada.
At a press conference notable for its intense security measures, both leaders described the talks as warm and fruitful.
Wednesday was Bush’s last day in Mexico, and the last day of the five-nation Latin America tour that began last Wednesday in Brazil and visited Uruguay, Colombian and Guatemala. He arrived on Monday in Merida, the capital city of the eastern Mexico state of Yucatan.
Calderon and Bush denied having spoken about oil and pressure of United States interests in privatizing the sector, which Mexico ’s constitution says must be controlled by the state.
The talks, however, covered trade, migration, the fight against drug trafficking, and frontier security.
Calderon expressed his confidence that Bush’s visit would mark the beginning of a new relationship between Mexico and the United States, adding that the two nations would share responsibility in economics, trade and fighting drug trafficking.
Bush said he recognized Calderon’s firm stance against drug trafficking and said that stronger measures against U.S. drug consumption were needed.
Calderon said that the border must halt the flow of drugs, but at the same time speed the flow of goods and people.
Bush also restated a promise to achieve a thoroughgoing migratory reform, which benefits all Mexicans and also makes the U. S. border more secure.
Both before and after Bush’s visit, demonstrators protested both in Merida and Mexico City, the nation’s capital, against it.
Each nation visited by Bush has seen protests against Washington’s warlike policy in Iraq, and against his bid to dominate Latin America economically.
Bush returns to Washington later on Wednesday.