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News > Latin America

As NAFTA Negotiations Continue, Mexican President Peña Nieto Attends BRICS Summit

  • Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Chinese President Xi Jinping (FILE).

    Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Chinese President Xi Jinping (FILE). | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 September 2017

Peña Nieto hopes to present Mexico's views on "development, south-south cooperation, promoting connectivity and trade, and ways to eradicate poverty.”

With an eye toward expanding its international relations and diversifying trade initiatives, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will be taking part in this week's BRICS summit in China as the country seeks to diversify its trade relationships in the face of U.S. President Donald Trump's “America First” economic policies.

Mexico is one of a group of countries taking part in the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries on the sidelines of the ninth annual BRICS summit taking place from Sept. 4 to 5, where leaders from Egypt, Guinea, Tajikistan and Thailand will join BRICS leaders to discuss global development cooperation and South-South cooperation in the city of Xiamen in east China's Fujian province.

Brics Summit Underway in Xiamen, China

The BRICS — or Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — is a grouping of five developing and newly industrialized economies whose rise has been seen as a harbinger of a new multilateral world system. The ninth annual BRICS summit will bring together Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Michel Temer, South African President Jacob Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Since BRICS members began to meet annually eight years ago, Peña Nieto told Xinhua in an interview, "we have seen important progress in the goals it set, particularly in the area of cooperation and coordination in multilateral forums on economic and political governance."

Continuing, the Mexican head of state noted that the dialogue provides his country "an opportunity to present its outlook on the topics that China, as organizer of the event, has brought to the table, especially development, south-south cooperation, promoting connectivity and trade, and ways to eradicate poverty.”

Prior to South Africa's induction into the group in 2010, the four other countries – called BRIC – were named in 2001 as a major potential bloc by Jim O'Neill, the chairman of the assets management division of U.S. investment house Goldman Sachs. O'Neill believed the group – large in size, territory and economic clout – was on a trajectory to overtake the G7 group of the world's wealthiest industrialized nations.

The group began meeting in 2009 with ambitious plans to collectively assert their geopolitical strength and stake their ground as a major bloc representing the burgeoning economies of the Global South. Talk of redirected trade flows and new South-based development banks began to raise hopes that developing and underdeveloped nations would be able diversify trade ties and tackle common goals, leading to a realignment in the global balance of forces that previously favored the wealthy developed countries of the G7 and OECD, or Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"Mexico is committed to each of those issues to make headway towards a more just, prosperous and inclusive world," said Pena Nieto, adding "we are most willing to continue to promote international collaboration towards these goals."

China Invites 5 Guest Countries to Summit in 'Brics Plus Approach'

The visit to Xiamen will coincide with the second round of talks surrounding the retooling of NAFTA, which is taking place in Mexico. The trade deal remains a punching bag for Donald Trump – in the past week alone, the former reality television personality has issued three separate threats to abandon the treaty, raising the prospect of “a scenario with no NAFTA,” according to Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo

As Mexico's local elites and free trade proponents brace for life without the treaty that boosted trade with North American neighbors Canada and the United States to around US$1 trillion annually from US$290 billion in 1993, Mexico has sought to re-balance of trade relations toward Latin America, as well as China and other nations along the Pacific Rim, which Peña Nieto asserts is a policy pillar for his administration.

The BRICS meeting is seen as another opportunity for Mexico to broaden bilateral trade with China, its second largest trading partner after the United States, especially as China tackles its Belt and Road initiative, a major development push uniting over 100 countries and international organizations.

“(The meeting allows us) to expand cooperation among countries, which are looking for new formulas for development, for cooperation, looking for new resources, financial, industrial knowledge and otherwise, that we can join together so as to find this common ground for better opportunities for our peoples,” Mexican ambassador to China Jose Luis Bernal Rodriguez told China Central Television.

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