3 Feb 2017

Mexico pushes for free trade deal with New Zealand

4:57 pm on 3 February 2017

The scramble to salvage free trade deals in the wake of the collapsed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has started, with Mexico wanting a free trade deal with New Zealand and five other countries.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto Photo: AFP

Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto has decided to pursue bilateral agreements with New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

New Zealand and Mexico's two-way trade was worth more than $700 million last year.

"We are happy to share with you that the Mexican government has decided to launch bilateral FTA (free trade agreement) negotiations with a number of TPP countries, and this includes New Zealand," said José Gerardo Traslosheros, the Mexican Ambassador to New Zealand.

A key issue for any trade deals would be access for New Zealand and Australian dairy and other agricultural produce, because of the importance of those sectors in Mexico. It also noted that Mexico could be a source of cars.

Under the TPP deal, Mexico had promised to gradually increase dairy import quotas.

Fisher and Paykel Healthcare has a factory in Mexico, making medical equipment which is shipped to the United States.

Mexico's trade relationship with the United States has come under pressure with President Donald Trump moving to force a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Prime Minister Bill English said the Government would rather chase a bigger trade agreement which included multiple countries than strike bilateral deals to replace the defunct Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.

Mr English had not spoken to anyone about a possible deal with Mexico, but said New Zealand was interested in talking to all of the countries that were involved with the TPP.

"The ones we've been in touch with so far are keen to progress something.

It's in our interest generally to get a bigger agreement than to go for a whole lot of bilateral, so we'd probably want to test that option first."