U.S., Mexico elections incentivize speedy NAFTA talks: Mexico minister

Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo gestures during an event organised by Americas Society/Council of the Americas at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Wednesday there are “incentives” to wrap up the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by the end of the year due to upcoming elections in the United States and Mexico.

“The incentives of the U.S. and Mexican electoral calendars encourage us both to try to finish (the renegotiation) by the end of 2017,” Guajardo told Reuters.

U.S. mid-term elections and the Mexican presidential vote are slated for 2018.

“This doesn’t mean that we’ll set a date to finish ... It doesn’t mean that we have an agreement to do so,” said Guajardo.

Mexico sends the vast majority of its exports north to the United States, and local officials view the trilateral treaty as a lynchpin of their economy.

“Without coming to an agreement we’ll try to work in that direction,” he added.

Separately on Wednesday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the best window to complete the renegotiation of NAFTA is by early January, well before Mexico’s presidential elections and U.S. congressional elections.

Reporting by Dave Graham; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Andrew Hay