By Laurence Iliff, Crain News Service
MEXICO CITY — Spring couldn't have come soon enough for Mexican officials worrying that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) might not survive the winter of U.S. President Donald Trump's ascent.
It sounds dramatic now, but the long faces and wary comments from Mexican auto industry leaders a few months ago suggested at least a latent fear that at any moment, the unpredictable Mr. Trump might cut Mexico loose and be done with the trade deal that was signed into law Dec. 8, 1993, by President Bill Clinton following the treaty's signing by President George H.W. Bush, Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1992.
NAFTA entered into force Jan. 1, 1994.
Likewise, Mexicans were so outraged by the Trump administration's commingling of attacks on NAFTA with threats of a deportation force and a border wall that some commentators suggested Mexico should perhaps walk away first from the agreement to keep its dignity.
So far, cooler heads on both sides of the border have prevailed, paving the way for negotiations later this year that may find the right mix of concessions to keep the trilateral trading bloc alive for another quarter-century.