Alexa

Mexico president: no Obama talk of reopening NAFTA

Mexico president: no Obama talk of reopening NAFTA

Mexico's president said Tuesday that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama did not mention reopening the North American Free Trade Agreement when the two met, but did stress the need to address labor and environmental protection aspects of the pact.
President Felipe Calderon said Obama expressed interest during Monday's meeting in improving border infrastructure and stopping the flow of smuggled U.S. weapons into Mexico. Calderon also said Obama "was emphatic in saying he won't leave Mexico standing alone" in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime.
But the Mexican leader acknowledged that the current economic downturn made it hard to discuss immigration reform or the legalization of migrants, one of Mexico's main aspirations.
"Obviously, the economic situation that we are experiencing in the United States, and of course in Mexico, adds an enormous degree of complexity in bringing this issue up," Calderon told reporters aboard his plane.
Calderon made his remarks Tuesday while flying home from a two-day visit to Washington, according to a transcript made available by his office.
Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president-elect pledged to find ways to work with Mexico to upgrade NAFTA with stronger labor and environmental provisions.
But Calderon said: "We did not talk about revising the free trade agreement."
The labor and environmental areas are covered by "side accords" negotiated along with _ but not contained in _ the 1994 trade pact. Critics of NAFTA say the accords are too weak to prevent polluting or low-wage industries from taking advantage of weaker standards or enforcement in Mexico.
Calderon said Obama accepted an invitation to visit Mexico without indicating whether a date was set.