By Express News Service

Mexican ambassador to India Federico Salas speaks to Pushkar Banakar on how the pandemic has changed India-Mexico ties, the Indo-US trade deal and on how the two countries can cooperate in different areas.

Excerpts: 

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected India-Mexico ties? What were the challenges that you faced during the global pandemic?

It has changed relations in a positive way. We (India and Mexico) are some of the hardest hit countries in the world. It made us realise that we need to deal with health issues worldwide from a multilateral perspective, not only for the coronavirus pandemic but also for the future.

Secondly, it brought us to a closer dialogue with India in terms of purchase of vaccines. The pandemic has brought us closer as we have a common challenge to face and we are trying to overcome it.

Mexico has been looking with different eyes at the pharmaceutical sector of India and the potential it has, not only with respect to Covid but also other issues. 

You had recently said that you could share your good and bad experiences with India on the trade deal with the US. What, in your opinion, is delaying the deal?

Mexico had negotiated a major trade deal with USA and Canada, the NAFTA in 1994, which was updated in June last year.

We have had an extensive experience of negotiating with the US one of the most ambitious and state-of-the-art FTAs of the world.

It was a complex negotiation. Mexico has always been open to share experiences and good practices in the negotiations. 

The agreements are very complex. Even the first NAFTA took at least five years of intense negotiation and requires strong commitments by the negotiating parties. 

I have no details in this case (India-US trade deal), but these things take time and I am not surprised. Many sectors in different countries are protective and defensive of what might happen while negotiating with an economic super power like the US.

However, that is not necessarily the case, as Mexico has proved it.

Are there any plans of Mexico joining the Quad or any bloc with regard to the Indo-Pacific, as you have stated that both India and Mexico believe in a rules-based international order?

No formal discussions on Quad have taken place, but there have been discussions of academic nature and also on the concept of the Indo-Pacific. The concept is fluid and is still in the making.

As we understand it, the Indo-Pacific extends from east coast of Africa to west coast of America. We discuss issues like trade facilitation and investments.

Our security interests in the South China Sea are limited, but we certainly support the principle of free navigation and peaceful spaces.

Any update on the dispute between the Khadi Village and Industries Commission and a Mexican firm on the registration of the Khadi brand and logo?

I do not have details of the particular case you mentioned, but I can say that one of the good things that has happened in the relationship between Mexico and India is that it has become more intense, but there are some frictions and some disputes may arise.

Fortunately, we have mechanisms to deal with this. We are negotiating with India an agreement with regard to the protection of promotion of investments. It should be finalised by the end of this year.

Full Interview on www.newindianexpress.com