To expand regional economic ties, Mexico is negotiating free-trade agreements with Venezuela and Colombia, following up its Sept. 22 signing of a free-trade pact with Chile. An added political aim for Mexico is to ease Latin Americans' worries that they will be frozen out by the proposed North American free-trade pact.

The Mexico-Chile accord will abolish most tariffs by 1996. Chileans alsosee it as a way to put themselvesnext in line to negotiate their ownfree-trade agreement with Washington after the North American pact is wrapped up. Meantime, they are under no illusions that free trade with Mexico will open a back door into the U. S. Chilean goods shipped to Mexico would still be barred from duty-free entry into the U. S. by North American local-content rules.