Mexico sent a stark message to U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday, saying an upcoming visit by Mexican officials to China showed Latin America's second largest economy had other places to export to if he tore up the NAFTA trade deal.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) underpins Mexico's economy, prompting the government to try and diversify away from the United States, which takes 80 percent of its exports.
Trump indicated in an interview with The Economist published on Thursday that he wanted to get the U.S.-Mexico trade deficit down to about zero. He wants to renegotiate NAFTA to get a better deal for U.S. companies and workers, and has threatened to end the agreement if he does not get his way.
"We will use (the China visit) geopolitically as strategic leverage" said Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, answering questions on trade at the Mexico Business Forum. "It sends the signal that we have many alternatives."
Guajardo noted Mexico sends China a fraction of its total exports, and that the two major manufacturing nations tend to compete rather than complement one another on trade.
He also offered a rebuke to China on its trade policy.