Thu May 11, 2017 8:45AM
The flags of the members of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (file photo)
The flags of the members of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (file photo)

Mexico has called on the United States to uphold the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), arguing that the suspension of such a trade deal would have consequences for both countries.

Mexican authorities said on Wednesday that the delay in economic integration would hurt US exports, risk American jobs, and affect consumers on the northern border.

The remarks by the Mexicans came in response to a March 31 executive order by US President Donald Trump for the review of a 2016 US trade deficit with Mexico, which Mexico attributed to China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001.

The US last year deficit with Mexico of $63.2 billion also reflected a weak peso after it was battered by uncertainty over the future of bilateral trade relations, according to a document published by the Mexican Embassy in Washington.

“The increasing integration of our economies makes Mexico critically important to the US economy, not only as an export market, but also as a partner in production,” the director of the embassy’s trade and NAFTA office, Kenneth Smith, wrote.

“Workers on both sides of the border work together in the production of goods to successfully compete in global markets,” he said.

The Mexican Embassy also announced that the average tariff on Mexican exports to the US would be 3.5 percent without NAFTA or about half the average tariff on US exports to Mexico when the “most favored nation” clause is applied under WTO rules.

The US president has previously cited the US trade deficit with Mexico as proof that Washington is the loser in the relationship, saying the Americans would be better off if the two countries did not trade at all.

Last month, Trump threatened to withdraw from the trilateral deal before eventually agreeing to renegotiate the deal with neighboring countries of Canada and Mexico.

Calling NAFTA a catastrophe and the “single worst trade deal ever approved” by the US, Trump argued that it has led to the outsourcing of thousands of jobs from the United States to Mexico and China.

NAFTA was first proposed by the administration of former president George H.W. Bush and was finalized by his successor Bill Clinton.

Trump threatened in the buildup to the November 8, 2016 presidential election that he would withdraw the US from the pact if he could not secure better terms for US workers and industry.