Mexico City — Leaders of Mexico's plastics industry believe U.S. tariffs levied on Mexican, Canadian and European Union steel and aluminum have scuppered any chance of negotiating a new NAFTA deal before the fall.
The tariffs are "an additional [impediment] in the NAFTA negotiating process," said Angel Ramón Oria Varela, treasurer of the Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico AC, known as Anipac.
It was now too late, he added in Spanish, for negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico to agree on a deal to modernize NAFTA before legislative elections in all three countries this year.
Anipac is Mexico's national plastics industry association, of which Oria is a former president. He has been a member of Mexico's consultative team during the ongoing NAFTA talks.
In a separate statement, Mexico's Confederation of Industrial Chambers (Concamin), to which Anipac belongs, was scathing in its criticism of the duties and supported the Mexican government's retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products such as pork, cheese, grapes and cranberries.
"Mexico has respected the rules of international trade and as such has sought a propositive vision in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement," it said in a Spanish-language news statement posted on its website May 31.
"However, the position of the president of the United States does not bode well for achieving results beneficial to the three countries involved.
"Donald Trump aired the idea that imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum would be part of this negotiation and that they would only be implemented if an agreement were not reached in the negotiation process."
Luis Aguirre Lang, president of Mexico's National Maquiladora and Export Manufacturing Industry Council (Index), which represents many plastics processors, said in a news release:
"The most worrying thing is that this type of message from the United States rarefies the atmosphere of the NAFTA talks and perhaps the negotiations will not be concluded in the coming weeks, as had been hoped."
He added that Trump "wants to pressure Mexico and Canada into accepting his conditions in the NAFTA modernization process."
Index is an umbrella council for 20 maquiladora associations representing the interests of between 5,000-6,000 companies across Mexico.
Between 40-50 percent of the companies work for the automotive industry and many of them have injection molding operations, according to former Index President Emilio Cadena Rubio.