With a hostile neighbor to the north, Mexico should look southward to bolster ties with the rest of Latin America to counter negative U.S. trade, immigration and diplomatic policies,a Mexican political observer told Xinhua in an interview.
Mario Torrico, a research professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (Flacso) in Mexico City, believes Mexico needs to strengthen its relationships "with allies that can support it as it faces the hostile policies" of U.S. President Donald Trump.
The real estate tycoon-turned-politician has pursued divisive policies aimed at building up U.S. trade and security, even at the expense of Mexico, which has so far been menaced to foot the bill for a massive and expensive wall along their shared border that it does not want, and to pay a border tax on its exports.
Trump is also looking to renegotiate the two-decade-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico and Canada, to secure better conditions for U.S. labor and industry.
On Tuesday, Trump threatened to abandon NAFTA unless the talks go his way. "We are going to make some very big changes or we're going to get rid of NAFTA once and for all," he said.
"If the conflict or disagreement with Trump grows, then with the diplomatic backing (of Latin America) there would be international declarations of solidarity with Mexico," Torrico said. "That is what Mexico has to do: seek this type of diplomatic support."
Mexico's Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Videgaray, currently on a trip to Spain, said Wednesday that Mexico is ready to renegotiate NAFTA starting the second half of the year, as long as "free trade continues to be free trade, with no imposed tariffs or quotas, and that it be a trilateral" accord.
No matter how the talks develop, the Mexican government should continue to diversify its diplomatic and trade ties that have for decades centered on Washington, said Torrico.
"As the trade renegotiation gets underway ... Mexico needs to stay firm and at the same time continue to work towards its goal of diversifying its market with other countries," including "looking to China as a good alternative," said Torrico.
"The Asian market would now be a good idea for Mexico to approach, along with other Latin American countries," said Torrico.
While South and Central American nations "don't have the purchasing capacity of the United States or China," they can play an important role as regional allies, he said.