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Mexico, EU Move Ahead with Free-Trade Pact, Trump Threatens NAFTA

The protectionist stance that the U.S. has adopted under the current administration is having wide reaching effects across the globe—the chief result seems to be galvanizing other countries to pull together.

The latest example of this is the Mexico-EU trade deal, which was announced on Saturday. The new trade arrangement updates a decades old pact, which primarily focused on industrial products. The new agreement will allow almost all goods to flow duty-free across borders, abolishing duties of up to 30 percent in some cases, according to the official press release.

It will also speed up customs procedures, lay down comprehensive sustainability standards and outline intellectual property protections. Further, both companies will be able to bid for government contracts in each other’s countries.

For the EU, this new deal, along with a slate of others signed recently, allows it to make up for trade alliance discussions that have been basically abandoned by at the Trump team. For Mexico, working with the EU is seen as a way for that country to shore up new alliances as protracted talks keep the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement up in the air.

“With this agreement, Mexico joins Canada, Japan and Singapore in the growing list of partners willing to work with the EU in defending open, fair and rules-based trade,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is quoted as saying in Reuters.

While these two countries draw closer, Trump toys with adding more stipulations to NAFTA. On Monday, the president said via Twitter, “Mexico, whose laws on immigration are very tough, must stop people from going through Mexico and into the U.S. We may make this a condition of the new NAFTA Agreement. Our Country cannot accept what is happening!” He added, “Also, we must get Wall funding fast.”

The tweet is Trump’s latest on NAFTA, which all sides had hoped to put to rest in 2017. The new goal is reportedly July 1 ahead of Mexico’s presidential election. Officials for all three NAFTA nations are scheduled to meet again on Tuesday.

In the meantime, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso responded on Twitter, saying, “Mexico decides its immigration policy in a sovereign manner, and the migration cooperation with the US takes place in such a way that Mexico agrees. It would be unacceptable to condition the renegotiation of NAFTA to migratory actions outside this framework of cooperation.”