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Mexico Draws the Line at Renegotiating NAFTA

President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump shake hands following their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Mexico’s foreign minister said her country is open to efforts that would “modernize” the North American Free Trade Agreement, but that Mexico City would “not renegotiate” the trade deal that was prominent in Donald Trump’s campaign pitch.

Claudia Ruiz Massieu told CNN International on Wednesday that “the Mexico-U.S. relationship does not begin, nor does it end with this election.”

“It is a mature long-standing relationship based on common interest, common values and a shared vision of the future. The election is over and we’re very much looking forward to starting a new chapter with the new administration,” she said.

When Trump was still running for the nomination earlier this year, Ruiz Massieu called his policies and rhetoric “ignorant and racist.” Of his border wall proposal, she said, “It is impossible to think of a 2,000-mile border being walled off and trade between our two countries stopped. It is impractical, inefficient, wrong and, frankly, it is not an intelligent thing to do.”

Pressed on the border wall this week, she replied, “We fully intend to stay and start working with a transition team to talk about our vision of our bilateral relationship and our vision of North American region.”

“We are very much committed to the North American vision, to NAFTA, as the treaty, as an agreement that has yielded great results for all free countries. Commerce and trade have increased over 300 percent, intraregionally. And we have not only traded more between each other, but we have started to produce things together. So we know that today, 22 years after NAFTA was signed and came into effect, there is an opportunity to modernize it so that it’s more beneficial for the three countries involved. And we are willing to talk about with the new government and with Canada as well, but we remain committed to NAFTA, to the North American vision and to free trade as a means to creating prosperity, jobs and opportunities for our people.”

Ruiz Massieu stressed the Mexican government’s belief that “migration is the source of prosperity and growth in our region.”

“We have seen a reverse on the migration trends from Mexico to the United States. In the past five years, we’ve seen more Mexicans returning to Mexico than Mexicans are going to the United States. So we have a negative migration today with the United States,” she said. “However, we do have a large community of Mexican people living in the United States. 12 million Mexicans born in Mexico reside in the United States and they contribute daily with their work and their creativity to the United States’ growth and prosperity.”

“We want to assure that they can become more integrated and have more opportunities. But we are close to our community, close at this time. We have been closer these past months and we keep our community informed with regards to their rights and the prospects of a future… we will work closely with the next government to make sure that their rights are protected and that fruit of their work is also protected.”