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Peña Nieto: 'Strengthening Ties with China a Priority'

September 8, 2017

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto joined Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, among other world leaders, at an economic summit that wrapped up Tuesday in southeastern China.

Mexico City - With U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly threatening to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a deal that underpins $1.2 trillion USD in trilateral trade between the United States, Mexico and Canada, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's government has stepped up efforts to strengthen its ties with China.

Peña Nieto joined Chinese President Xi Jinping, among other world leaders, at an economic summit that wrapped up Tuesday in southeastern China. During Peña Nieto's trip, China's vice trade minister, Wang Shouwen, said China was interested in possibly establishing a free trade agreement with Mexico.

The following is an editorial written by Peña Nieto, which was published by the South China Morning Post on Tuesday, September 5, 2017:

The Asia-Pacific region continues to be the world leader in growth and it will play a defining role in the future of the global economy. Therefore, it has been a top priority for the Mexican government to strengthen its ties with key Asian partners, especially China, a fundamental player in the international arena and an indisputable pole of growth and development.

Since the start of both my term in office and that of President Xi Jinping, we have imprinted our bilateral ties with an unprecedented dynamism through a continuous exchange of high-level visits and persistent encouragement of bilateral trade and investment. This is my fourth visit to China as president of Mexico, and the seventh time I will meet President Xi.

In 2013, our countries upgraded our relationship into a comprehensive strategic partnership. Undoubtedly, this was a decisive step in broadening and deepening our political, economic and cooperation links. This partnership has allowed us to create specialized mechanisms to strengthen our exchanges in all areas.

In the economic track, the high-level business working group and the high-level investment working group seek to help Mexican and Chinese companies build solid ties, facilitate the establishment of alliances and identify profitable business opportunities.

Through the working group, we established a bilateral investment fund with capital of US$2.4 billion. Its mission is to stimulate investment in strategic sectors for both countries, such as telecommunications and energy. So far, the fund has invested in two projects in Mexico: one in the field of oil exploration and production and another in the shared telecommunications network – Mexico's most ambitious telecoms project.

Moreover, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's largest bank, began operations in Mexico in 2015 - a platform that further facilitates trade and investment between our countries.

The Mexican president, who met with Xi on Monday, also said "diversifying" his country's trade portfolio is "one of the pillars of our trade policy." And he insisted his country is "committed to free trade," even as the future of its largest free trade agreement (NAFTA) remains uncertain.