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At present, although the United States and Mexico are embraced in an atmosphere of cooperation that is unprecedented, there are still potential areas of conflict that could chill relations between the two countries if they are not handled with great diplomacy. The tricky part here for President Bush, Mexican President Fox and other leaders is that these issues are more about perception than they are based on reality. The two major issues that come up the most are directly related to one another. These two issues, trade and immigration also touch on other politically sensitive issues which include environmental concerns, worker conditions, economic parity, political freedom, and governmental control.
Now, nearly nine years afters its enactment, NAFTA, the North .American Free Trade Agreement, championed by the first George Bush and supported by every U.S. president who is still alive, is still being argued about with both facts and rhetoric.
The people of the United States, despite bipartisan support were never squarely behind the agreement to begin with. Many felt the agreement was a one-sided deal that would lead to the final erosion of the United States industrial base. Perot sounded the alarm with his campaign statement in 1993 that "the large sucking sound you will hear, (thanks to NAFTA) is the sound of jobs leaving U.S. soil.
. While the major intent of NAFTA was to help bolster the economy of Mexico by creating more manufacturing jobs south of the border, and open up trading from the U.S. To Mexico which was slowed by Mexican applied tarriffs that artifically drove up the price of U.S. goods in Mexican markets, it was believed that a great side benefit would be realized with regard to illegal immigration. By creating more employment opportunities in their homeland, Mexicans would not be so motivated to swim the Rio Grande in search of better wages and better futures for their families.
To date with some very notable excpetions, there has not been any great sucking sound as the NAFTA agreement though still perceieved as being one sided by many in this country has proven to overall be advantageous to all three major players which includes canada along with the U.S. And mexico.
According to John Skorburg, the Senior Economist for the Economic Analysis Team of the American Farm Bureau Federationbased his findings on a report by the USDA, Economic Research Service
"Overall, NAFTA has been a positive benefit to all 3 countries. The data shows that trade flows have increased greatly. However, with the increase of exports, imports have increased as well. Trade is still a 2-way street.
"According to the ERS data, NAFTA is not the "savior or devil" that it is portrayed to be. Some commodities have greatly benefited while others have felt little impact. It depends on which side of the "commodity fence" you land."
While the realization of NAFTA has produced an increase in U.S. agricultural exports -- primarily in bulk commodities and vegetables -- to Mexico as well as to Canada, the U.S. import of many specialty crops have increased. According to the ERS report
Three-way agricultural trade has doubled since the beginnings of NAFTA.
NAFTA has allowed competitive market forces to play a more dominant role in determining trade flows.
The agreement has contributed to an expansion of U.S. agricultural exports.
NAFTA has established rules that mitigate potential trade frictions.
In 1990, U.S. agricultural exports to NAFTA countries were nearly $7 billion a year. By 2000, this figure had doubled to nearly $14 billion. In 1990, 17% of U.S. agricultural exports went to Canada and Mexico. By 2000, this share had expanded to 28%.
While more jobs have been created than not in the U.S., by focusing on certain areas, NAFTA opponents have created the impression of great damage being done. Town along the border have seen many factories close, as these companies have found it more advantageous to relocate on the Mexican side of the border where wages are lower and pollutions laws, though perhaps not more lax are less enforced.
The immediate impact of NAFTA that was in the public eye was negative. In the first few years of the…