Officials from Canada, Mexico, and United States Stress Importance of the NAFTA Relationship

At the North American Competitiveness and Innovation conference earlier this week, the value to Canada, Mexico, and the United States of a coordinated North American economic strategy was emphasized.

The San Diego Union Tribune highlighted statements from key government officials, and two outside experts on NAFTA’s current status and ways to enhance North American economic competitiveness:

Following a closed-door meeting with her counterparts, Pritzker joined them — Mexico’s secretary of the economy, Ildefonso Guajardo, and Ed Fast, Canada’s minister of international trade — for a panel discussion before a luncheon audience of 400 people.

To move forward, participants cited the need for addressing issues such as making border infrastructure upgrades, facilitating labor mobility across borders and collaborating on regulatory frameworks.

Guajardo said because of NAFTA, “the economic geography of Mexico has changed radically.” At the time of the agreement’s signing, manufacturing represented only 15 percent of the country’s exports — compared with 85 percent today, he said.

But NAFTA’S benefits have been uneven in Mexico, Guajardo said, with border regions and central states such as Queretaro “tremendously transformed” while in other states such as Oaxaca, Guerrero and Campeche, “you don’t see the effect. … It’s like you have two Mexicos.”

“NAFTA has been very successful, but it’s yesterday’s news in some respects,” said Laura Dawson, a former Canadian trade official and currently a consultant on cross-border trade. “We can only do better internationally if we consolidate our competitiveness at home.”

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