Mexico should seek social benefits from NAFTA talks: experts

Updated 2017-08-17 15:16:05 Xinhua

Mexico should renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to bring more social benefits and trade, experts said on Wednesday.

Ignacio Martinez, the coordinator of the National Autonomous University of Mexico's (UNAM) Laboratory for Analysis of Trade, Economics and Business (Lacen), warned that the negotiation strategy announced by the Mexican government lacks a social component.

While NAFTA boosted employment in the manufacturing sector in central and northern Mexico, the International Monetary Fund studies have shown that salaries remain the same as in 1995, just after NAFTA was signed, Martinez said.

Mexico, the United States and Canada began the first round of NAFTA negotiations in Washington on Wednesday at the request of U.S. President Donald Trump who made a campaign promise to get a better deal for U.S. workers.

For his part, Tomas Milton Munoz, a researcher from UNAM's Center for International Relations, said that Mexico should pressure the White House to grant more NAFTA visas for Mexican professionals.

The number of such visas granted by the United States to Mexico increased from 5,500 in 1995 to 13,000 in 2015, but harsh criteria are still in place.

An ideal result of the talks would be an introduction of freedom of movement as is seen in the European Union, although there is little chance of achieving that given Trump's harsh stance on immigration, Munoz said.

"A great opportunity to create better competitiveness in the bloc is being lost by refusing to address the possibility of creating real migration oversight," he added.

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