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Denise Dresser on NAFTA

24 February 2014

Translation by Reed Brundage for Mexico Voices.

A snippet:

NAFTA is a mosaic of chiaroscuro, black and whites and grays, of what did happen and what was left pending. The trade liberalization that NAFTA pushed forward is not and was not an independent variable; it cannot be analyzed separate from the development model adopted by the country. A model characterized by mediocre economic growth. A model with small islands of competitiveness and productivity surrounded by extreme poverty. The unequal distribution of income. The dependence on the United States economy. The turn toward exportations as a lithmus test. Since Salinas changed directions when he proposed NAFTA, Mexico is a more open, competitive, functional country for millions of consumers.

But at the same time it’s more unequal. Full or monopolies, duopolies and oligopolies that NAFTA didn’t even touch. Full of privileges and protections that NAFTA didn’t face. Because the treaty was thought up to make the cake bigger, but it wasn’t created to share it better. Carlos Salinas was so hungry for foreign investments that he searched for the best way to get them. NAFTA would be a seal of quality, a mark of identity, a verification of stability. Instead of being a turbulent Latin-American country, Mexico would be a triumphant North American country. And it was packaged, sold and embellished as such; just like Enrique Peña Nieto’s energy reform is today. As an infallible detonator of growth. As an invitation to foreign investment, capable of financing what Mexico can’t do on its own. As a way to institutionalize the proximity and ensure business.

(Sombrero tip to Sterling Bennett)

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