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Ex-Commerce secretary says bullying Mexico could weigh on its 2018 elections

If the new U.S. administration doesn't tread carefully in its dealings with Mexico on issues like trade, Mexico's 2018 elections could result in cooling relations between the United States and its southern neighbor, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez told CNBC on Friday.

"How they do things are very important," Gutierrez said of President Donald Trump's White House team. "I'm worried about what happens to Mexico's elections in '18. If we bully them, we could end up with [an] anti-American populous."

On Thursday, one day before the Trump's inauguration, two high-level Mexican government officials said they would be meeting with Trump administration officials.

The likely topic of discussion will be the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has vowed to renegotiate as a top priority when he takes office.

"These are unintended consequences that we've got to think through," Gutierrez insisted.