(Bloomberg) When exhausted officials from the 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership wrapped up a week of talks in Hawaii at the end of July without reaching a deal, Mexico's economy minister, Ildefonso Guajardo, brushed off efforts to pin the delay on him. "What you can accuse me of," he told the press with an amused smile, is advocating for "the interests of my country."
Guajardo is fighting to ensure that the TPP does not jeopardize gains his country has made under the North American Free Trade Agreement, which eliminated tariffs on goods shipped between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. Ford Motor, General Motors, and Chrysler (now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) all expanded production south of the Rio Grande after the deal took effect in 1994 to take advantage of duty-free access to the U.S. market and Mexico's low wages. European and Japanese manufacturers did the same. Last year, Mexico overtook Japan to become the second-largest exporter of vehicles to the U.S., behind Canada.