US Treasury head touts trade, security in Mexico visit

MEXICO CITY – U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew made a strong pitch for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact in a visit to Mexico Thursday.

Lew strongly defended globalization, but acknowledged that “some industries, towns, and workers” in both countries “are feeling the stress of this change.”

Mexico was seen as a beneficiary of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, and the pact has become an issue in this year’s U.S. presidential campaign.

Lew acknowledged a lot of people still have to be won over, saying, “We must win the argument, one that is supported by the facts, that fair trade will grow both of our economies.”

The TPP seeks to expand free trade between North America and the Asia-Pacific region.

Lew’s speech in Mexico City came at the end of a Latin American trip that also included stops in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia.

The trip was aimed at underscoring the close ties between the United States and Latin America at a time when Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee for president, has made attacks on America’s relationship with Mexico a central part of his campaign.

Trump has called the NAFTA a terrible deal for the United States and has said he would pull out of the agreement if elected president and demand that it be renegotiated on better terms for the United States.

Lew also said that “co-operation with Mexico on security matters is at an all-time high,” referring specifically to joint efforts against money laundering.

“Of course, more work remains,” Lew said. “Our goal is to disrupt and ultimately dismantle the networks that support drug trafficking organizations, in the formal and informal sectors on both sides of the border. “

The Treasury Department has been criticized in the past because the more than 800 “kingpin” designations issued by its Office of Foreign Assets Control seldom include enough evidence to allow Mexican prosecutors to file charges against money launderers.

In fact, many businesses named on the U.S. lists continue to operate in Mexico.