Mexico leader urges Obama on free trade

November 24, 2008
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, LIMA, November 24 – Mexican President Felipe Calderon warned US president-elect Barack Obama on Sunday against revising the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying it would send more Mexicans across US borders.

Obama\’s campaign included a call for renegotiating the free trade treaty which since 1994 has brought the United States, Mexico and Canada into a single market, saying that it was hurting US workers.

Calderon defended free trade during a summit of 21 Pacific Rim leaders, including outgoing US President George W. Bush, who warned together against a drift to protectionism amid the financial crisis.

"If you eliminate the benefits of free trade, you eliminate many of the opportunities for jobs and for growth for both Americans and Mexicans," Calderon told reporters after the summit in Lima, Peru.

"If you get rid of the trade and job opportunities, one of the effects, which no one wants, would be an increase in emigration from Mexico," he said.

An estimated 12 million undocumented workers, many of them Mexicans, live in the United States, and each year another 300,000 cross the 3,000-kilometer (1,800-mile) border.

Obama, whose father was from Kenya, has said he supports legal immigration but also controls against illegal immigration. He voted as a senator to build a wall on the Mexican border.

Calderon also appealed for Obama\’s leadership in resolving the global financial crisis and ensuring that emerging economies do not suffer disproportionately.

"We will again need the next US administration to take very firm leadership not just for Americans but for the world," he said.

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