The European Union and Mexico agreed Friday to "modernise" a 15-year-old free trade accord to bring it into line with deals concluded with Canada and negotiated with the United States.
The agreement to launch negotiations to further liberalise trade came during a summit in Brussels between Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and his EU counterparts Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker.
"We have to adapt our ties to the reality of the world economy and increase bilateral trade with it," Pena Nieto told a press conference after the summit.
The decision to "modernise" the 2000 trade agreement is a result of the need "to reflect the EU's weight" as an economic power and Mexico as "an emerging power," he added.
It comes, the Mexican president said, "in light of agreements that the EU has just reviewed with our main partners in North America," Canada and the United States.
Mexico is part of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with Ottawa and Washington. The European Union now has a pact with Canada and is trying to negotiate a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) accord with the United States.
TTIP would be the biggest single free trade agreement in the world.
"Following the United States and Canada, two of our strategic and biggest trade partners, it would be an omission not to modernise our agreement," Pena Nieto said.
The sectors both sides hope to liberalise are electronic trade, energy and sustainable development.
The energy sector particularly interests a 28-nation EU that seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian imports and diversify suppliers.
Mexico, a "strategic partner" of the EU since 2008, is the world's eighth biggest producer of crude, with 2.5 million barrels a day, according to Mexican figures.
The decision to modernise the EU-Mexican free trade agreement was taken in 2013, but both sides on Friday took the political decision to launch negotiations.