“We all know that China is not a free trader, that’s the reality,” he said. But he added that Mexico has had success persuading China to ease trade barriers on some goods and expects it to continue to open up as its economy matures.

The trip to China would be in September, Guajardo said, but he did not provide details.

A Mexican diplomat in Beijing told Reuters he was referring to the China International Fair for Investment & Trade summit in Xiamen. “High-level contact is very frequent,” said the diplomat, who was not authorized to comment.

Guajardo said he was also working on a “radical broadening” of preferred tariffs with Brazil and Argentina to lower the cost of importing grains from the South American nations while giving Mexico better access to their manufacturing markets.

That would make the “worst-case scenario” of the U.S. withdrawing from NAFTA less painful for Mexico and strengthen its negotiating hand, Guajardo said.

“If NAFTA disappears, I can export cars (to the United States) paying 2.5 percent tariffs. If they want to export yellow corn to me, I can raise tariffs to inaccessible levels,” Guajardo said. “But to make that strategy credible, I have to broaden our agreements with Brazil and Argentina.”

Representatives of Mexico’s government and private sector are in Brazil this week to close new supply deals of corn, soy and rice, members of the delegation said Thursday.