Unlike the NAFTA negotiations, discussions to modernize the Global Agreement between the EU and Mexico are proceeding steadily, such that the parties are still adhering to their objective of reaching an agreement in principle by the end of 2017. A fifth round of negotiations took place in Brussels at the end of September, followed by an important intercessional meeting in mid-October. A sixth round of negotiations is scheduled for the end of November in Mexico.

The parties report achieving progress in the areas of customs and trade facilitation, rules of origin, good regulatory practice, technical barriers to trade, digital trade, and investment. However, further work remains in the thornier areas of public procurement, dispute settlement, geographical indications, and the sectoral annexes for automobiles, pharmaceuticals, and wines.

The Global Agreement’s trade pillars, which entered into force in 2000 for goods and 2001 for services, preceded by a number of years the Commission’s drive to conclude trade agreements that are more ambitious in scope to address, for example, regulatory barriers to trade, sustainable development, government procurement, and intellectual property rights. The legal underpinnings of the important EU-Mexico trade relationship were therefore due for an update.

As it has come to coincide with the review of the North American Free Trade Agreement over the past year, the renegotiation of the Global Agreement between the EU and Mexico is marked by a sense of relative urgency. While the EU maintains a tough line on key negotiating positions including trade in services and government procurement, ultimate agreement with the EU will help Mexico secure one of its major trade relationships.