Canada to Join US-Mexico Free-Trade Negotiations

MEXICANS have cautiously accepted Canada as a full partner in free-trade talks between the United States and Mexico aimed at building an economic super-bloc that can compete with Europe and Asia. But Mexican officials worry that the three-way talks may complicate efforts to cement a pact that faces opposition in all three countries.

President Bush announced plans for the talks on Tuesday, indicating that a free-trade zone between the three nations could be the first step toward a hemispheric free-trade zone stretching ``from Point Barrow in Alaska to the Straits of Magellan.''

A North American free-trade zone would encompass 360 million people and an annual production of more than $6 trillion.

Officials said negotiations are likely to begin in June, when the US and Mexico had been expected to open free-trade talks with each other. The United States has a three-year-old free-trade agreement with Canada.

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