Gov. Matt Mead speaks at a press conference on July 19 in Cheyenne. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

Gov. Matt Mead expressed his support for the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada last Wednesday, following a meeting with the Mexican Consul General from Denver.

In a press conference, Mead called NAFTA valuable for Wyoming. “It’s really important for governors to speak loudly about how important international trade is,” he said. 

Trade representatives from the three countries will begin renegotiation in mid August, according to the news agency Reuters. As a candidate, President Trump criticized NAFTA as detrimental to the U.S. economy. Last September, during his first debate with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, he called it the “worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere.”

While such agreements can be renegotiated from time to time, the “fundamental belief” in international trade must remain strong, Mead said. “Our trade with Mexico is critical. Our biggest trading partner is Canada. This is not the time to pull back on those, this is the time to grow those trading partners and those friendships.”

Likewise, Consul General Berenice Rendón called the agreement a chief concern of hers. Both parties said trade took up the bulk of their meeting, in which they also discussed immigration issues.

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Trade between Mexico and Wyoming today centers around natural gas and some wood products, Rendón told WyoFile. She said the governor had expressed an interest in exploring new trona markets in Mexico as well, and may consider a trade visit. Mead also said he looked forward to an opportunity to visit the country.

During his election campaign, Trump often portrayed international trade agreements like NAFTA as damaging to American workers. He also railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal negotiated by former President Obama. Shortly after assuming office, he withdrew the U.S from that agreement with a Jan. 23 executive order.

Thus far, the blueprints released for renegotiating NAFTA suggest show the Trump administration doesn’t intend to change the trade policy much, other than by pushing for stronger labor standards, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

Andrew Graham

Andrew Graham is reporting for WyoFile from Laramie. He covers state government, energy and the economy. Reach him at 443-848-8756 or at andrew@wyofile.com, follow him @AndrewGraham88

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