On April 28th, it was publicly announced that, after four years, negotiations for a new trade agreement between the European Union and Mexico had ended. The Mexican Ministry of Economy reported that “this concludes the negotiation process of the agreement that began in June 2016. The updated agreement is of the latest generation and includes new disciplines such as energy and raw materials, sustainable development, small and medium-sized companies, good regulatory practices, transparency and anti-corruption, among others.” It still needs to be signed by both parties and the legislative discussion to be approved and enter into force.
The original agreement signed in 2001 left almost all merchandise trade free of tariffs and introduced elements such as Human Rights safeguards, among other elements. Since that date, merchandise trade between the EU and Mexico is estimated to have at least tripled.
Faced with the updating of the agreement, more than 300 European civil society organizations that participated in a caravan on the social and environmental impacts of transnational corporations and free trade in Mexico expressed their deep concern at “the danger to human rights of the Mexican population included in the closing of the new agreement.” They demanded a radical change in European trade and investment policy.
Among their concerns, they expressed that “it would be the first free trade agreement, signed between the European Union and a Latin American country that includes the chapter on investment protection. This implies granting transnational corporations the exclusive right to challenge the democratic decisions of the States, challenging, for example, public interest legislation”, when Mexico is itself “among the six most sued [countries] in the world by foreign investors before international tribunals.”
They also recalled that “the impacts of free trade agreements and investment protection have generated devastating consequences in Mexico”, including “an alarming situation of environmental and health emergencies.”
They concluded that the European Union “must not only operate a radical change in its international trade policy, stopping the signing of agreements that ensure corporate interests and violate human rights” but also “demonstrate once and for all its commitment, supporting effectively the establishment of binding standards for transnational corporations in the field of human rights.”
For more information in Spanish:
Acuerdo UE-México: Profundamente preocupante para la sociedad civil europea (OSC, 29 de abril de 2020)
México y UE modernizan TLCUEM (El Universal, 29 de abril de 2020)
La UE y México concluyen su nuevo TLC; estaba pendiente la transparencia en licitaciones(Proceso, 28 de abril de 2020)
México y Unión Europea concluyen negociación para modernizar el tratado de libre comercio (El Universal, 28 de abril de 2020)
Concluyen México y Unión Europea modernización de tratado comercial (La Jornada, 28 de abril de 2020)
For more information from SIPAZ: