Mexico Joining Pacific Trade Talks Seen Positive for Canada

Mexico was invited to join nine-nation Pacific trade talks, a step that may boost Canada’s chances of taking part and give North America a bigger role in the regional negotiations, according to business groups.

The governments negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership acted on Mexico’s expression of interest in the talks, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced today at a G-20 summit in the Mexican resort city of Los Cabos.

Mexico’s entry “will encourage the Canadians to come to the table in the near term as well,” Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the New York-based Council of the Americas, which promotes open markets in the Western Hemisphere, said in a phone interview. Expanding the discussions also may slow the process of concluding an agreement, he said.

The regional partnership is a top priority of the Obama administration’s trade agenda. Japan and Canada also have expressed interest in joining the talks, though no agreement has been reached yet. In addition to the U.S., the countries in the discussions are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Joining the trade talks is “a great piece of news for Mexicans,” Calderon said. The accord will create jobs and trade for the next two decades, he said.

‘Economic Footing’

The regional discussions “are critical to establishing strong economic footing for the United States in the Pacific region and providing a counterbalance to China,” Republican Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, said in a statement. He said he supports including Mexico.

By including Mexico, U.S. businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers will get to take advantage of economic benefits triggered when the agreement is completed, the National Foreign Trade Council, a Washington-based business group, said in a statement.

The American Automotive Policy Council, a Washington-based industry group for Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, also supports including Mexico and Canada, as long as their addition doesn’t stall the negotiations. Japan should further open its auto market to international competitors before being allowed to participate in the Pacific agreement, according to the group’s website.

The Obama administration plans to notify Congress soon that it intends to include Mexico in the agreement, starting a 90-day consultation period with lawmakers, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in a statement. The public will have a chance to comment, it said.

The Pacific-region partners want to conclude the agreement “expeditiously,” according to the statement. The nations, which have held 12 rounds of negotiations, plan to resume discussions July 2-10 in San Diego.

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