March 19th, 2014 – This year marks the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico and Canada.
The trilateral pact was signed by United States President Bill Clinton, Mexican President Carlos Salinas, and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, and implemented in January 1994. The agreement eliminated most tariffs on products traded between the United States, Mexico and Canada. It also applied intellectual property protections, formed dispute resolution processes, and created labor and environmental safeguards.
To assess the twenty years since the enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a conference was held at the University of California San Diego on March 7, 2014. The attendees studied and evaluated Mexico’s growth and gains since the implementation of NAFTA, in particular, while exploring ways to increase U.S. relations with Mexico through the University with student exchange programs, special counseling and financial aid for foreign students.
Their findings suggest that over the past decade, Mexico has made great advancements toward strengthening their country, particularly in the areas of foreign relations and economic growth.
Manufacturing in Mexico has prompted the former agriculturally dominated economy to evolve into a wide-ranging manufacturing market, producing everything from airplanes to refrigerator parts. In 2012, Mexico had 579,000 of North America’s 1.5 million automobile industry jobs.
A July 2013 report from the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) states, “The Mexican government has recently enacted changes that have made the Mexican economy stronger and cited the government’s energy reform as a change that will open up numerous possibilities for foreign companies, including U.S. manufacturers.”
Manufacturing in Mexico provides its citizens opportunities for increased income, education, and wealth accumulation that would have never been possible before NAFTA. Mexican prices for basic household goods, clothes, televisions, and food have been cut by one half since NAFTA was introduced.
The country’s positive response to Mexico manufacturing has also facilitated greater foreign relations between the United States, Canada and Mexico. Continued communication and trade between the three nations could likely build a unified North American workforce with unlimited growth potential and economic benefits for all its citizens.
A proponent of strengthening United States and Mexico’s relations, UC’s president and former Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced the University of California system is launching an initiative to increase student exchanges and research ties with Mexican universities. Napolitano has pledged $5 million in financial aid and special counseling for undocumented students at the University of California San Diego. She hopes the U.S., Mexico and Canada will present themselves to the world as a unified region in the future.