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Mexico, European Union to upgrade trade pact

Later this year, Mexico and the European Union are scheduled to negotiate a new free trade agreement as Europe continues to work to tie its economy closer to North America.

The request for a new accord comes following a deal with Canada and efforts to sign an agreement with the United States.

The European Union is hoping to create a transatlantic free trade zone to help set up global rules of commerce before China. While E.U. talks with Brazil have stalled, Mexico is going ahead with the planned discussions. The hopes for such an agreement stems from a pact with Mexico in 2000.

“We are ready to commit to a highly ambitious deal,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told a forum in Brussels alongside Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo. “I will ask for a mandate to launch negotiations this fall,” she said.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is expected to discuss the timing of the talks in more discussion at a Latin American summit in Brussels on June 12.

A deal, which would likely take several years, would be an upgrade to the current EU-Mexican agreement that was signed when the global economy was much less integrated. The upgrade will be part of a new generation of deals that will go beyond tariffs.

With the EU’s current pact with Canada and a planned pact with the United States, an upgraded pact with Mexico would mean the opening of additional markets, allowing businesses to bid for public tenders in one another’s country.

The European Union is Mexico’s second-largest trading partner after the U.S., while Mexico remains a top destination for EU exports after the U.S. and China. An upgraded pact would also allow Mexico to join Latin America’s Pacific economies of Chili, Columbia and Peru that also now have modern trade agreements with the E.U. and U.S.

“With Colombia, Chile and Peru, we are sending a signal of fresh air that we are the countries of free traders. We are responsible for more than half of Latin America’s exports to the world,” Economy Minister Guajardo said.

Mexico is also part of an Asia Pacific free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, part of a broader U.S. strategy to link its economy to fast-growing markets in the Pacific.

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