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Mexico aims for EU free-trade deal by end of February

According to a Mexican official, his country believes it can conclude a new free-trade agreement with the European Union before the end of February. The EU and Mexico intend to update a trade deal that largely covers industrial goods. The goal is to add farm products, more services, investment and government procurement, and include provisions on labour standards and environmental protection.

Mexican negotiators are in Brussels this week, after which the two sides will reconvene next week in Mexico. The Mexican official said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom could come in the week starting February 19 to help push talks to a close and to allow an initial deal to be announced, though only if a deal was within reach.

The key challenges are how far to open each other’s markets to food and drink -such as tequila, chicken and asparagus from Mexico and dairy products from Europe- and the EU’s demand to recognize Geographical Indications.

Such indications protect agricultural produce - for example, dictating that the term “champagne” can only be used for sparkling wine from northern France or, that the term “manchego” only applies to sheep’s milk cheese from central Spain. Mexico is more used to protecting products with trademarks (and has its own cow’s milk “manchego”).

According to, the EU also wants its companies to be able to bid in Mexican government tenders, even at state level.

For Mexico, a deal with the EU would be part of a strategy to reduce its reliance on the US, the destination of nearly 80% of its exports. That has become more urgent, given president Trump’s threat to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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