Trade negotiators plan to take small steps forward in a second round of talks to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) this weekend, trying to ignore daily threats from U.S. President Donald Trump to tear it up if he does not get his way. David Pollard reports.
It can be a smooth ride for the trucks that cross the US-Mexican border ... It might be anything but (smooth) as negotiators gather for a new round of NAFTA trade talks. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ECONOMY MINISTER ILDEFONSO GUAJARDO, SAYING: "This will not be easy. The start of negotiations is like a rollercoaster, there will be good days, there will be bad days, and there will be worse days. Fortunately, the Mexican economy understands that a negotiation is not resolved in 142 characters. A negotiation is not done through social media." Unless, that is, you're Donald Trump. The talks take place in Mexico - but have been dominated from Washington even before they begin .... His Twitter feed this week demanding a better deal for US workers. And threatening to abandon NAFTA unless he gets it. SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ECONOMY MINISTER ILDEFONSO GUAJARDO, SAYING: "This is a possibility that we cannot deny. Nobody comes to negotiations without keeping in mind the possibility of an exit from an unsalvageable goal. We are negotiating on this premise, that if there is no alternative, no additional plan, then there is no means to sit down and negotiate." That was said on Tuesday. The minister since then declaring Mexico and Canada could go it alone in NAFTA. In a bid - itself a challenge - to rescue at least some of a trillion dollars of yearly commerce. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC PARTNERS MARKET STRATEGIST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "It's more a statement of philosophy to trade rather than trying to significantly preserve the economic benefits of NAFTA. Clearly, without the U.S. participation in NAFTA, the trade flows will be very, very significantly impacted to the tune of 80 to 90 percent." Trump's threats could, say NAFTA fans, be no more than a negotiating tactic. But if not, they warn it won't be only Mexico and Canada that lose out, but their major trading partner too.