| MEXICO CITY, June 4
MEXICO CITY, June 4 China and Mexico promised
broad cooperation on issues ranging from energy to mining and
infrastructure during a state visit by Chinese President Xi
Jinping on Tuesday, but any free-trade pact between the emerging
market powers is still some way off.
Mexico's government has voiced worry about its massive trade
deficit with China, an imbalance Mexican President Enrique Pena
Nieto wants to set right.
Mexico wants "to find a greater equilibrium in our trade
balance," Pena Nieto said during a joint address to the media
with Xi. They did not take questions.
He said the two countries had also agreed to defuse a
standoff over textiles that had resulted in litigation.
The two governments signed agreements to cooperate on
commercial defense, and agreed on access for Mexican tequila and
Mexican pork to the Chinese market.
State oil monopoly Pemex said Export-Import Bank
of China would provide it with a $1 billion credit line to buy
ships and offshore equipment. It also signed a memorandum of
understanding with state-owned Xinxing Cathay International
Group to explore ways to work together on pipelines.
More than 15 percent of Mexico's imports came from China in
2012 - an amount worth $57 billion - while just 1.5 percent, or
$5.7 billion, of Mexican exports went to the Asian giant.
Xi said China planned to sign commercial contracts to buy an
additional $1 billion worth of Mexican goods, but did not
Earlier on Tuesday, Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Antonio
Meade said it was too soon for a free-trade agreement between
the two countries - something China is eager to pursue.
'TOO EARLY' FOR FTA
"I think at this stage it is too early to talk about a
free-trade agreement," Meade told local radio.
"I think we are still at a stage at which we are becoming
aware of opportunities, opening a space for business dialogue,
so it does not seem to be the instrument or path which best
serves us," he added, saying it was an alternative to evaluate
in the future.
Mexico ran a slight surplus with its global trading partners
last year, but posted a huge deficit with China, largely because
of an influx of manufactured goods.
Mexico and China have been direct competitors to supply the
U.S. market with manufactured goods and Mexican producers have
fought to keep the Chinese off their turf.
"We have agreed on the importance of reinforcing mutual
political trust, and broadening cooperation," Xi said through a
Xi is set to address Mexico's Congress on Wednesday before
heading to the ancient Maya pyramids of Chichen Itza. He then
flies to the United States to meet President Barack Obama later
in the week.
Mexico has regained U.S. market share in recent years as the
labor-cost differential with China has narrowed sharply, eating
into a Chinese cost advantage.
A decade ago, Mexico's average labor costs were nearly three
times higher than China's but, according to at least one report
this year, hourly wages in Mexico are now lower..
Mexico is part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
negotiations, which aim to boost trade among the Americas, Asia
and Australasia. The talks include the United States, Canada and
other major economies on the Pacific rim.
China has said it will study the prospect of joining the
Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.