July 25, 2018 / 12:34 AM / a month ago

Trump calls for quick NAFTA deal in letter to Mexico president-elect

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump told Mexico’s president-elect in a letter that a quick renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would bring more jobs for both countries, but warned of a very different route otherwise.

U.S. President Donald Trump walks from Marine One as he returns from Kansas City, Missouri, to the White House in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

In a letter replying to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who won Mexico’s presidential election on July 1, Trump said that he was looking forward to working closely together to build a great relationship, mentioning trade, security and migration.

“A strong relationship will lead to a much stronger and more prosperous Mexico, which frankly would make me very happy!” Trump wrote in the letter.

The missive was the latest step in a thawing between the two countries since Lopez Obrador’s landslide victory, after a tense 18 months between Trump with outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Known as “AMLO”, the president-elect wrote Trump a seven-page letter earlier this month, signing off that both men had managed to “displace the establishment.”

Mexico's president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at his campaign headquarters in Mexico City, Mexico July 23, 2018. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf

They have spoken by phone and Trump sent a senior delegation to Mexico, led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, shortly after Lopez Obrador’s win.

Mexico and Canada have clashed with the United States over an update of the trilateral trade accord since Trump’s team demanded tougher regional content rules for the auto industry and proposed a clause that would kill the agreement if it was not renegotiated after five years.

After weeks with little movement, Mexican trade negotiators travel to Washington this week to revive the talks. On Monday, Trump said he expected to get something worked out on NAFTA.

In the letter published Tuesday, Trump said he thought a NAFTA deal would lead to more jobs and higher wages on both sides of the border, “but only if it can go quickly, because otherwise I must go a much different route,” he wrote.

Negotiations to reshape the 1994 pact were launched last August at the behest of Trump, who blames NAFTA for the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and argues the deal has cost jobs at home.

Trump also said in the letter that he was prepared to address economic development and security issues that drive migration to the United States.

Reporting by Christine Murray; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Lisa Shumaker

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