(Adds details on last week's meeting, context)
MEXICO CITY, March 2 Mexico's economy minister
will travel to Detroit on Friday to meet with executives from
automakers Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co,
keeping a frenetic pace of meetings to deter President Donald
Trump from punishing Mexican exports.
Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo will also meet with auto
parts makers that have operations in Detroit and Mexico, the
ministry said. He will discuss the state of U.S.-Mexico trade
and the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement
Trump has vowed to exit NAFTA, the 1994 trade accord that
also includes Canada, if he cannot get better terms for the
United States. He has also drawn up plans to build a wall on the
U.S. southern border and tax Mexican-made goods heading north to
pay for it.
Wary of Trump's unpredictability, Mexico is not counting on
talks with the White House to save it from a possible trade war.
Instead, it hopes to build support among companies and U.S.
states that most rely on business south of the border to
pressure the president not to resort to drastic measures.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Mexico
would only stay in NAFTA if it suited the nation and he rejected
the imposition of any tariffs or quotas. The countries have yet
to start formal negotiations.
"Thanks to NAFTA, Mexico and Michigan have built a dynamic
trade relationship," the ministry said, noting that Mexico was
Michigan's second biggest trade partner with more than $12
billion in exports to Mexico last year.
The United States sent its top diplomat Rex Tillerson and
Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to Mexico
City last week to tend to ties badly bruised by Trump's threats
about NAFTA, the border wall and Mexican immigrants.
Their efforts were set back when Trump described
deportations as "a military operation," forcing Kelly to make a
One person familiar with the events said news of Trump's
comments came just as Kelly and Tillerson were meeting with
their counterparts, underscoring what Mexican officials see as
the dangers of negotiating with the U.S. administration.
To calm the waters, the U.S. officials decided to add the
clarification to Kelly's press statement after the meetings, the
(Reporting by Veronica Gomez and Alexandra Alper; Writing by
Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Cynthia