February 27, 2018 / 3:57 PM / a year ago

Mexico trade minister to meet Ross in Washington: sources

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo speaks during an entrepreneurship event in Mexico City, Mexico February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s trade minister will meet with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Washington on Wednesday, said two sources familiar with the situation, at a time of tension in bilateral ties and as negotiators meet to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The meeting between Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Ross was not planned to discuss the NAFTA pact among the United States, Mexico and Canada, a third source said, mentioning that it aimed to address two other issues, without giving details.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Mexican sugar chamber said U.S. refiners had asked for a review of its compliance with a sugar trade deal. The head of the sugar chamber said the industry was not “overly concerned” about it.

Asked whether Guajardo would be discussing sugar trade with Ross, Mexico’s chief NAFTA negotiator, Kenneth Smith, said Mexico and the United States had agreements to manage trade in sugar and tomatoes, which were periodically reviewed. He did not confirm whether those two issues were on the agenda.

Mexico has expressed concern about curbs on steel and aluminum imports being considered by U.S. President Donald Trump, including a proposed 24 percent tariff on steel products from all countries. Trump could exclude certain countries from the tariffs.

Mexico’s fraught ties with Trump hit another bump following weekend reports that a testy phone call between him and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Pena Nieto, led to the cancellation of a planned meeting between the two in Washington.

Trump is pushing for a border wall, which he promised during his campaign that Mexico would pay for. The Mexican government has said it will not do so. The U.S. president also frequently threatens to abandon NAFTA unless big changes are made to a pact he blames for U.S. manufacturing job losses.

Reporting by Dave Graham and Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Peter Cooney

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