In my last column, I wrote about my visit with Mexican Ambassador Geronimo Gutierrez, during his November 16 trip to the El Paso/Juarez/southern New Mexico region. This is the second part of a two-part series.
During Gutierrez’s visit to the El Paso/Juarez/southern New Mexico region, he provided his government’s stance on the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations, which will be entering the next round of talks sometime early next year. The following are the ambassador’s thoughts on the negotiations.
According to Gutierrez, there are four major issues that are at the heart of the NAFTA renegotiations. The first is the issue of modernizing the agreement. When NAFTA was implemented in 1994, the internet age was in its first stages. Phenomena such as e-commerce and internet fraud were terms that were barely being understood. Likewise, in 2013, Mexico introduced changes to open up its energy industry in the major areas of oil, natural gas, and electricity to foreign participation. Mexico’s energy sector had been nationalized since 1938, and the energy laws were a monumental shift. These changes and the foreign participation in this industry were not part of the original NAFTA negotiations and are being discussed in the renegotiations. According to Gutierrez, this first issue comprises approximately 50 percent of the NAFTA renegotiations.
Issue two deals with what Gutierrez refers to as the “progressive agenda.” This concerns environmental issues and labor rights. It also deals with indigenous people, especially as relates to Canada. While these are important topics, Gutierrez doesn’t believe any part of the progressive agenda will be a deal-breaker in the renegotiations.
The third issue of the renegotiations focuses on government procurement and changing the process of investor settlement disputes. There has been tough talk bandied about by the Trump administration pertaining to dispute resolution under NAFTA. At times, this seemed to be a major sticking point going into the negotiations. However, according to Gutierrez, this issue should also be resolved.