The European Union and Mexico are close to finalising a new free trade agreement – to replace a deal from 17 years ago. Hopes are high that a new agreement will be concluded as early as next week.

Following a round of negotiations on December 5, the Mexican economy ministry, headed by Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, said that at the next round of talks in Brussels on December 11, there are hopes to “outline a possible conclusion of negotiations”.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, Mexico has been negotiating an updated version of the 2000 free trade agreement since May 2016.

The most recent talks — the sixth round — focused on issues related to market access, competition policy and intellectual property.

With a Mexican general election scheduled for July 2018, there is an added incentive on the Mexican side to conclude the negotiations by the end of the year.

“Modernising the EU-Mexico Free Trade Agreement is a priority in Mexico’s trade agenda seeking to strengthen our integration with existing trade partners and diversify our economic relations around the world,” Mexico’s economy ministry said.

Mexican-EU trade has grown significantly since the 2000 deal but remains miniscule in comparison with the volume of trade the Latin American country conducts with the US and China.

According to DW, Germany is Mexico’s biggest European trading partner. Europe’s largest economy imported 1.1% of all Mexican goods last year while 3.7% of Mexican imports in 2016 came from Germany.