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Mexico, EU reach deal to update trade agreement

Mexico and the European Union reached a deal to update their nearly 20-year-old free trade agreement on Saturday, including the elimination of tariffs on a number of Mexican agricultural products.

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who arrived in Hannover, Germany, in the afternoon to begin a five-day tour of three European nations, said via Twitter that the “agreement in principle” was struck in Brussels.

“The modernization of this instrument broadens our markets and consolidates us as priority partners of one of the most important economic blocs in the world,” Pena Nieto said.

The announcement comes amid uncertainty for both Mexican and European commercial ties with the United States under the presidency of Donald Trump, who has espoused a more protectionist stance on trade.

Mexico is in ongoing talks with the United States and Canada on overhauling the North American Free Trade Agreement. About three-quarters of Mexico’s exports go to the United States, and roughly half its imports come from there.

A joint statement from Mexico’s Foreign Relations and Economy departments said that under the agreement with the EU, tariffs will be scrapped on Mexican orange juice, tuna, honey, agave syrup, fruits and vegetables, among other products.

Also addressed in the deal are services, telecommunications, technology, rules for protecting investments and a mechanism for dispute resolution.

“With the conclusion of this new agreement, Mexico and the European Union send a strong message to the world about the importance of keeping markets open, working together through multilateral channels to confront global challenges and cooperating in benefit of the causes of humanity,” the joint statement read.

It said that since the accord took effect in 1999, trade between Mexico and the European Union has quadrupled and the European bloc accounts for 38 percent of foreign direct investment in Mexico.

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