NEW YORK -- Chase Manhattan Bank said it would apply for the banking license in Mexico if the North American Free Trade Agreement were approved.

Brian O'Neill, a senior vice president, said the Mexico license would form part of the bank's strategy of expanding its wholesale banking operations in Latin America.

Currently, Chase has a representatives office in Mexico and foreign banks aren't permitted to engage in full commercial banking operations. But the trade accord contains banking reciprocity provisions that would permit foreign banks to open wholesale banking operations there.

The Chase office would carry out corporate finance, foreign exchange trading, and other wholesale banking operations, Mr. O'Neill said.

He said Chase's strategy for Latin America focuses on wholesale banking, not on expanding its retail banking presence.

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