Mexico's 'AMLO' wants two-way deal with Canada if NAFTA fails

Mexico City (AFP) –


Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday that his country will seek a bilateral trade deal with Canada if negotiations fall through for a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The United States and Canada are holding a flurry of talks aimed at keeping NAFTA a three-country deal, after the US and Mexico reached their own deal that President Donald Trump says may or may not end up including Ottawa.

But the latest round of negotiations ended Thursday with no signs of a compromise to bring Canada into the deal.

Mexico has repeatedly said it wants the updated version of the 25-year-old NAFTA to remain a three-country deal -- a stance reiterated by Lopez Obrador, who takes office on December 1.

But if all else fails, "we'd have to keep the deal (with the United States) and try to reach a similar one with Canada," he said in the northern state of Sonora.

"Obviously we can't cut ties with either."

The anti-establishment leftist, who won Mexico's July elections in a landslide, said he has had good relations so far with the Trump administration.

"I hope with all my heart it stays that way," he said.

"We're neighbors. We can't be distant neighbors. We have to achieve a relationship of respect and cooperation."

US-Mexican relations have been strained over Trump's anti-Mexican insults, his insistence on overhauling the "terrible" NAFTA deal, and his vows to make Mexico pay for a wall on the border.

But despite their ideological differences, Lopez Obrador and Trump have hit it off.

The leftist leader known as "AMLO" has notably wooed the Republican billionaire with talk of stemming the flow of migration to the United States by promoting economic development in Mexico.

Lopez Obrador, 64, posted a video on Twitter from the border fence between Sonora and the US state of Arizona in which he vowed to keep would-be migrants on the Mexican side by launching an economic development corridor in the border region from January 1.

His plan, which would notably double the minimum wage and slash taxes along the border, would act as a "curtain," rather than a wall, to keep would-be migrants in Mexico, he said.