An official in Mexico’s Agriculture Ministry and two other sources close to the talks told Reuters on Wednesday that Mexico would walk away from the negotiating table if the US launched a termination process.
NAFTA is a trade treaty among the US, Canada, and Mexico, dating back to 1994.
Incumbent US President Donald Trump has called NAFTA the “single worst trade deal ever approved” by the US and claimed that it has led to the outsourcing of thousands of jobs from the US to Mexico and China.
The three parties to NAFTA agreed in July last year to hold seven rounds of talks to renegotiate the deal; however, little progress has been made on key issues. The penultimate round of the NAFTA negotiations is scheduled to be held in the Canadian city of Montreal between January 23 and 28.
On Tuesday, Canadian officials said they believed with confidence that Trump would soon act to trigger the withdrawal process. America will not legally have to withdraw once that six-month period is over, and the potential move to set the clock ticking has been interpreted as an attempt by Trump to strengthen America’s hand in the negotiations.
Mexico on Wednesday sought to make clear that would not happen.
“I think it’s indisputable that if Trump announces a US withdrawal from NAFTA, well, at that moment, the negotiations stop,” said Raul Urteaga, the head of international trade at Mexico’s Agriculture Ministry.
The two other sources, who are involved in the trade talks and spoke on condition of anonymity, also reiterated that Mexico would leave the negotiating table if the US president launched withdrawal.
The Wednesday report sparked fear in international markets and a devaluation of both the Canadian dollar and the Mexican peso.
Mexico has previously called on the US to uphold the 24-year-old trade deal, arguing that the suspension of such an agreement would have consequences for all parties involved.
Meanwhile, Canada has launched a wide-ranging attack on US trade practices, calling on the World Trade Organization to examine the use of duties in the US.