NAFTA Leaders Forge Path Forward To Deepen North American Integration
Jobs, jobs, jobs, that’s the worry when it comes to the political reality of international trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and that put proponents of NAFTA attending the NAFTA-20 Conference on defense with the public, especially in times of economic stress and sustained high unemployment. The speakers and business leaders that converged at NAFTA-20, held in San Antonio where NAFTA was actually signed in 1992, struggled to find a path forward to deepen the integration of the three countries — Canada, Mexico, and the United States — amidst the political opposition and the lackluster defense of NAFTA by political leaders of each government.
“If I stopped people on the street and asked them if NAFTA has sent American jobs to Mexico, eighty-percent would answer, ‘yes,’” noted Barry Lawrence, Director of Texas A&M Supply Chain Lab.
Jaime Serra Puche, Head NAFTA Negotiator on behalf of Mexico, made the case that Canada, Mexico, and the United States are truly economically integrated 20 years after the signing of NAFTA. It’s hard to disagree when you look at the data. U.S. and Mexico’s chief economic indicators virtually track an identical pattern since NAFTA was implemented. Each country now depends on the others.
But father of the ‘big idea’ of the North American Union (NAU), which was carefully referred to as the North American ‘community’ or ‘framework,’ Robert Pastor, painted a bleak picture of NAFTA’s future citing data that NAFTA trade peaked in 2001 and in a post 9-11 world; North America hasn’t restored the gains NAFTA made in its first 7 years. Pastor encouraged NAFTA proponents to forget NAFTA, saying it achieved the dismantling of trade barriers it set out to do, and move beyond it to a North American community and trans-national thinking.
While treading softly around the obvious concerns about national sovereignty, and overtly denying that his vision is equivalent to a North American Union patterned after the European Union (which is visibly crumbling before our eyes), Pastor went on to lay out a vision that’s identical to a NAU.
Pastor proposes this North American framework:
1) Creating a common security perimeter (erase our borders)
2) A single ‘common’ or ‘seamless’ market (versus each nation’s individual commerce, market, & currency)
3) Reduction in the development gap between Mexico and its North American counterparts (prioritizing Mexican education and workforce development vs each nation educating its own citizens)
4) Intercontinental infrastructure (NAFTA trade corridors like the Trans Texas Corridor)
5) Labor mobility between the three countries (open borders)
6) Tribunal on investment disputes (erase U.S. law, replace with international law)
With sovereignty-eroding words like ‘harmonization,’ ‘regionalization,’ ‘common,’ ‘trans-national,’ ‘continental,’ ‘cross border,’ and ‘trilateral’ repeatedly used to describe the relationship between the NAFTA countries, there can be no mistake that erasing borders and national identities in favor of a North American ‘community’ is the goal of NAFTA — and without the consent of the citizens from each nation. National priorities would give way to regional ones, and taking resources and wealth from one nation and giving it another for the sake of the ‘whole,’ is nothing more than wealth redistribution and socialism.
Speakers framed progress in terms of ‘continental’ gross product and analyzed trade as a North American ‘region.’ Canada and Mexico could identify substantive economic gains in terms of employment, a boost to various industries, and a net gain in trade, but one elephant in the room no one discussed was the very real damage done to U.S. wages (stagnant since 2000), American jobs (at least 1 million jobs lost due directly to NAFTA), the trade deficit, and the complete vanishing of certain sectors (U.S. manufacturing has been supplanted by China, India, and Mexico with the U.S. dropping to #12) due to NAFTA and global trade.
The preceding article originally appeared here in its entirety at The Examiner.