Mexico bets on Philippines as 'door' to trade ties with ASEAN

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 06 2018 12:52 PM

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto speaks at an event in Mexico City, Mexico May 31, 2018. Carlos Jasso, Reuters

MANILA -- Mexico said Wednesday it hoped the Philippines could serve as its "door" to Southeast Asia, as it diversifies trade relations in the face of US President Donald Trump's moves.

With their centuries-old ties and shared Spanish heritage, the Philippines can help Mexico forge agreements with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said Mexican Ambassador to the Philippines Gerardo Lozano Arredondo.

Two-way trade between Mexico and Manila stands at $2.5 billion (P131 billion) with Mexican investments to the Philippines valued at $6 billion. Filipinos, in turn, have invested $500 million in Mexico.

"The Philippines can be the door for Mexican businessmen to ASEAN," Lozano said in an exclusive interview with ANC's The Boss.

"The Mexican government realized the risk of depending on one single market. During the last year, Mexico has started the very serious process of trade diversification," he said.

Lozano said he hoped Asian countries could join the Pacific Alliance, a Latin American trade bloc.

Mexican Ambassador to the Philippines Gerardo Lozano speaks to Cathy Yang for ANC's The Boss

Mexico put tariffs on American products ranging from steel to pork and bourbon on Tuesday, retaliating against import duties on metals imposed by President Donald Trump and taking aim at Republican strongholds ahead of US congressional elections in November.

Trump last week rattled some of the United States' closest allies by removing an exemption to tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that his administration had granted to Mexico, Canada and the European Union.

Lozano lamented the trade spat, saying many US states depend on exports to Mexico.