Mexico to try former negotiator of USMCA trade pact

July 9, 2021 GMT

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A judge in Mexico ordered the country’s former economy secretary, who served as one of the lead negotiators of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement, to stand trial on illicit enrichment charges.

The judge ruled Friday that Ildefonso Guajardo could remain free while the trial was underway, but he was prohibited from leaving the country. Prosecutors say Guajardo had an “unjustifiable increase in his wealth” while in office from 2014 to 2018.

Guajardo was elected to a seat in the lower house of Congress in the June 7 elections. He denied the charges and said he would work to clear his name.

Guajardo served under former president Enrique Peña Nieto’s 2012-2018 administration. Several ex-officials from that administration have been accused of corruption.

Guajardo told the Milenio television station that the charges “are better for me, because I will have the opportunity to defend myself in front of an impartial authority.”

The trade pact, which replaced the old NAFTA accord, went into effect in July 2020.