Mexico set to 'mirror' policy on any U.S. trade tax change: minister

Mexico's Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal listens as Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (not pictured) announces a plan to strengthen the economics for families in Mexico City, Mexico January 9, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s economy minister said his country was ready to renegotiate trade rules with the United States and that any change in U.S. tax policy that affected imports would have to be countered with a “mirror action” in Mexico.

U.S. President Donald Trump told a meeting with U.S. executives on Monday that companies would face a “major border tax” if they shifted jobs outside the United States. Such a measure could affect Mexico’s exports to the United States, its top trading partner.

“If there is any action that punishes imports to the North American market and encourages U.S. exports, you have to reflect it in a mirror action to counteract the change of incentives that this would make for activity and investment in Mexico,” Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said in an interview in the newspaper El Universal on Monday.

Trump said on Sunday he planned talks soon with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He was expected to issue an executive order to start the process as early as Monday, NBC News reported, citing an unidentified White House official.

Guajardo said Mexico was ready to renegotiate NAFTA with Trump, but it was not possible to detail what Mexico would seek in the talks until Trump’s administration had made its own plans clear.

“The dialogue has not yet begun, we cannot get ahead of ourselves,” he said.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is facing a deep slump in popularity, is set to meet Trump on Jan. 31 following meetings between senior officials of both administrations in Washington this week.

Reporting by Michael O’Boyle; Editing by Bernadette Baum