Boost for dairy exports as EU and Mexico agree new free trade pact
The European Union and Mexico reached an agreement on Saturday on a new free trade deal, a coup for both parties in the face of increased protectionism from the United States under President Donald Trump.
Since its plans for a trade alliance with the United States were frozen after Trump’s election victory, the EU has focused instead on trying to champion open markets and seal accords with other like-minded countries.
The agreement in principle with Mexico follows a deal struck last year with Japan and comes ahead of talks next week with the Mercosur bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
“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,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
For Mexico, a deal with the EU is part of a strategy to reduce its reliance on the United States, the destination of 80 percent of its exports. That has become more urgent, given Trump’s push to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The EU and Mexico wanted to update a trade deal agreed 21 years ago that largely covers industrial goods. The new deal adds farm products, more services, investment and government procurement, and include provisions on labour and environmental standards and fighting corruption.
The European Commission said that, under the deal struck on Saturday, practically all trade in goods with Mexico will be duty-free, including for farm products such as Mexican chicken and asparagus and European dairy produce.
The deal will for example cut Mexican tariffs of up to 20pc on cheeses such as gorgonzola and increase EU pork exports, the Commission said.