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NAFTA negotiators to meet at Hacienda Ochil

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Hacienda Ochil will welcome U.S. agriculture officials for trade talks this week. Photo: Ochil

Mérida, Yucatán — Officials arrive today to continue high-level trade negotiations that begin in the U.S. a week ago.

The meeting will be between the United States Minister of Agriculture, George “Sonny” Perdue, and his counterpart from Mexico, José Calzada Rovirosa. But it won’t be in a big-city hotel.

Rather, it will be outside of town, at the historic Hacienda San Pedro Ochil, in the municipality of Abalá.

About 35 kilometers south of Mérida, the restored hacienda has working tracks with small wheeled carts, once used to haul materials. A small museum, machine house and smokestack still stand. Ochil’s main attraction, however, is its restaurant.

This meeting aims to reach agreements on the agricultural side of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Senior officials will then meet privately Thursday at the San Pedro Ochil Hacienda, which will be heavily guarded.

On Friday, a forum seeking to strengthen commercial ties — at least with agricultural products will be at the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya.

Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, will be among at least 11 other high-level officials in from Washington.

A week ago, Perdue hosted the Mexican delegation in Savannah, Ga., setting the table for the talks. The meeting coincided with a Commerce Department announcement stating that the U.S. trade deficit was at its highest level in a year during the first quarter.

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