Reprinted from The Wall Street Journal by William Mauldin and Santiago Pérez on July 2, 2018.
The Mexican presidential election on Sunday removes a hurdle to the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, raising the likelihood that the 24-year-old treaty once again will become a focal point in President Donald Trump’s effort to rewrite the rules of global trade.
Efforts to overhaul the pact had floundered in recent weeks, amid missed deadlines and concern among many observers and participants that Mexico’s shift to a leftist-nationalist government could complicate negotiations.
In fact, the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador may instead pave the way for at least some progress on the negotiations, according to trade negotiators and other observers. While US businesses have concerns about López Obrador, the Trump administration’s approach to Nafta appears to dovetail with at least some of López Obrador’s economic priorities.
One big example: López Obrador has signaled his administration will be more receptive to Washington’s push to raise labor standards in Mexico—a key goal of both President Donald Trump and Democratic lawmakers in Washington—than had been the government of outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto, according to a US congressional aide briefed on the talks. …