On NAFTA, Mexicans will try to give Trump a ‘win’ without losing

As Mexican officials head to Washington this week to begin renegotiating NAFTA, they are balancing their specific goals with an awareness that the U.S. president cares as much, or more, about the optics of the deal than the specifics, says the Los Angeles Times.

“The [Mexican] negotiators understand that they must end up with something that President Trump can sell as a win,” said Pamela Starr, a professor of international relations at USC.

Trump has repeatedly blamed NAFTA for the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs, and his “chief trade representative says closing the roughly $60-billion trade gap with Mexico will be a top priority during the talks that begin Wednesday,” says the Times.

Mexico’s goals include broadening the agreement to include the energy, financial services, and telecommunications industries, and possibly a guestworker program in the United States — an idea that would likely run afoul of labor-aligned members of the U.S. Congress. What Mexico “desperately wants to avoid,” says the Times, is “any proposal to add tariffs to goods moving across the border.” In January, Trump threatened to slap a 20 percent tax on goods coming from countries with the which the U.S. has a trade deficit.

“The problem is, there’s a sense [in Mexico] that victory for Trump will have to come at the expense of Mexico,” said Antonio Ortiz-Mena, a member of Mexico’s negotiating team.