Former President of Mexico (1988-94) Carlos Salinas de Gortari, one of the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement, argues that NAFTA’s significant achievements have been underplayed. Instead of tearing up the agreement, as Donald Trump has proposed, Mexico, the US, and Canada must reinforce it if they are to compete with other world regions.
The key to recovering lost jobs and promoting wellbeing for those worst hit by transformations in the global economy is competitiveness. But competitiveness cannot be achieved through paternalistic gestures towards workers, autocratic attacks on individual firms, or by disowning vital partners in international trade. Destabilising relations with Mexico will certainly damage the dynamic region built around the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but it won’t improve US competitiveness vis-à-vis other regions. The huge economic power of a single country and the erection of trade barriers to Chinese exports are no longer enough. Only North America as a region provides an effective competitive platform for its constituent nations. Rather than undermining NAFTA, Trump in the US, Trudeau in Canada, and Peña Nieto in Mexico must work together to reinforce it.
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