WASHINGTON -- A day after Mexico’s president said he was optimistic about a new NAFTA, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to make Mexican immigration control a condition of a new NAFTA agreement on Monday, saying the southern U.S. neighbour must stop illegal immigrants from getting into the United States.
“Mexico, whose laws on immigration are very tough, must stop people from going through Mexico and into the U.S. We may make this a condition of the new NAFTA Agreement,” Trump wrote in a Twitter post. “Our Country cannot accept what is happening!”
Trump made similar threats linking NAFTA, known formally as the North American Free Trade Agreement, and immigration when a “caravan” of migrants moved through Mexico earlier this month. “They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA,” Trump wrote on Twitter on April 1.
However, discussion of immigration controls has not been a part of formal negotiations on the new NAFTA accord and talks by all accounts -- including Trump’s -- are progressing.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, speaking at the Hanover trade fair in Germany on Sunday, said he's optimistic about reaching a deal to overhaul NAFTA.
“We have optimism, as well, that we're going to be concluding the renegotiation [and] modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement ... ensuring benefits for all its partners,” Pena Nieto said Sunday.
Monday, he reiterated his point, saying he hoped for an agreement soon.
Nieto said differences between the parties could be overcome to revamp the 24-year-old accord, which underpins some US$1.2 trillion in annual trilateral trade.
Mexico faces a challenge with the United States and Canada in overhauling NAFTA. About three-quarters of Mexico's exports go to the United States; roughly half its imports come from there.
Representatives from the three nations were to meet again in Washington on Tuesday as they push to wrap up a deal.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.